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13 Dec, 2023 15:19

India shifts position on Gaza

New Delhi had previously abstained on a draft resolution submitted by Jordan, citing India’s “zero-tolerance policy” on terrorism
India shifts position on Gaza

India voted in favor of the resolution put before Tuesday’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, in what could be interpreted as a shift in the South Asian country’s approach to the conflict there. In October, New Delhi abstained from voting on a Jordanian resolution calling for a humanitarian truce, citing its “zero-tolerance policy” on terrorism. 

“[The] challenge in this extraordinarily difficult time is to strike the right balance,” Ruchira Kamboj, India’s permanent representative to the UN, said while delivering her remarks on the vote. 

Kamboj insisted that the unraveling situation in the Middle East has “many dimensions.” “There is the terrorist attack in Israel on 7 October and the concern for the hostages taken at that time,” she said, before highlighting what she described as an “enormous humanitarian crisis” and the “large-scale loss of civilian lines” as causes for concern.

The Indian representative also reiterated New Delhi’s official stance on the decades-long conflict: a two-state solution. “We therefore welcome the fact,” she added, “that the international community has been able to find a common ground to address the multiple challenges facing the region right now.”

India was among 153 countries that voted in favor of the resolution, introduced by the Arab Group and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which also called for the protection of civilians in line with international law and the release of hostages taken from Israel by Hamas.

Weeks earlier, on October 26, India abstained from voting on a similar draft resolution submitted by Jordan to the UNGA that called for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and Palestine. At the time, New Delhi had argued that India’s abstention reflected its zero-tolerance policy on terrorism and that the country could not vote in favor of resolutions that didn’t directly reference the October 7 attack carried out by Hamas, in which militants killed some 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages. 

Notably, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi was one of the first world leaders to condemn the Hamas attack, which he unequivocally termed an act of “terrorism.”

In the ensuing weeks, however, Modi has walked a diplomatic tightrope on the issue: he has called out human rights violations in the Israeli siege of Gaza, assuring continued aid to suffering Palestinians, and urged a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. The Palestinian Health Ministry on Tuesday said that the death toll from the ongoing Israeli attacks has mounted to 18,412, thousands of them being women and children.

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