Modi calls for Global South consensus on Gaza
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged leaders from the Global South to forge a consensus in addressing emerging challenges, particularly those unfolding in the Middle East, amidst the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.
Modi, in his opening remarks during the second ‘Voice of Global South’ summit, which New Delhi is hosting, reiterated India’s condemnation of the terrorist attacks on Israel that occurred on October 7.
“With restraint, we emphasized the need for dialogue and diplomacy,” Modi said. “We strongly condemn the death of civilians in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. After talking to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, we also sent humanitarian aid,” he added.
He asserted that countries in the Global South should talk in “the same tune” for the “greater good.” They should strive for ‘One Earth, One Family, and One Future’ – the theme of the G20 under India’s presidency – by following the principles of “consultation, cooperation, communication, creativity, and capacity building,” Modi underlined.
India has been walking a diplomatic tightrope over the Israel-Palestine conflict. Modi swiftly condemned the surprise Hamas attack on Israeli towns in October, unequivocally labeling it as an act of “terrorism.” Simultaneously, he expressed profound “shock” at a missile striking the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, resulting in the death of over 500 people. Modi underscored the imperative to safeguard civilian lives amid the conflict.
Meanwhile, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has reiterated New Delhi’s “long-standing position” on negotiating a two-state solution to resolve the decades-old conflict.
Many of India’s partners in the Global South, however, have criticized the Israeli government’s response to the Hamas attack. Chilean President Gabriel Boric earlier this month condemned the Israeli military’s air bombardment of Gaza and recalled his envoy to Israel, as did Colombia and Honduras. Bolivia’s left-wing government cut diplomatic ties with Israel, accusing the country of carrying out “crimes against humanity” in Gaza.
Many African countries have criticized Israel. The African Union issued a strongly worded statement on the Al Ahli Baptist Hospital attack last month delivered by Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat: “There are no words to fully express our condemnation of Israel’s bombing of a Gaza hospital today, killing hundreds of people. Targeting a hospital, considered a safe haven under International Humanitarian Law, is a war crime. The International Community must act now.”
In South Asia, Muslim-majority countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia, among others, have called for an immediate ceasefire. Indonesian President Joko Widodo appealed to Washington to do more to stop the atrocities in Gaza during his meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House earlier this week.
The second ‘Voice of the Global South’ summit aims to share the “key outcomes” of meetings held during New Delhi’s G20 presidency this year before it hands the baton to Brazil. It’s also meant to discuss the “challenges posed by global developments.”
Leaders from several countries in Africa, South America, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia are participating in the summit. “When India assumed the presidency of the G20, we saw it as an opportunity to amplify the voices of the Global South in the forum,” Modi also stated on Friday.
New Delhi, which was instrumental in orchestrating the inclusion of the African Union in the G20 earlier this year, has tried to position itself as the de facto leader of the ‘Global South.’ At the UN General Assembly session held in September, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar emphasized the need for a multilateral world order that would be more inclusive of the Global South.