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India agrees on need for early restoration of peace in West Asia

New Delhi: India agrees with Egypt on the need for early restoration of peace in West Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday even as the BJP-led government drew flak from the opposition parties for not supporting a United Nations resolution calling for a humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip.

“We share concerns regarding terrorism, violence and loss of civilian lives,” the Prime Minister wrote on X referring to his discussion with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Saturday. “We agree on the need for early restoration of peace and stability and facilitating humanitarian assistance”.

Modi called Sisi after India decided against supporting the UNGA resolution, which was put forward by Jordan and co-sponsored by several other nations, including Egypt, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. It was adopted by the UNGA with 120 nations voting in favour of it, 14 against it and 45 abstaining. The resolution called for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas. It condemned “all acts of violence against Palestinian and Israeli civilians, including all acts of terror and indiscriminate attacks, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction”.

India, however, abstained from voting on the resolution as it did not include any explicit condemnation of the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas on Israel on October 7.

The BJP-led government in New Delhi came under criticism from the opposition parties for abstaining on the UNGA resolution seeking a humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that she was “shocked and ashamed” at the decision of the government.

D Raja of the CPI and Sitaram Yechury of the CPI issued a joint statement stating that India’s abstention from voting at the UNGA on the resolution was ‘shocking’ and ‘contrary’ to its long-standing support for the cause of Palestine.

Explaining its decision to abstain from voting on the resolution, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Yojna Patel, told the General Assembly of the international organisation that the terror attacks in Israel on October 7 had been shocking and deserved condemnation.

She also stated that terrorism was a malignancy and knew no borders, nationality, or race and the world should not buy into any justification of terror acts.

New Delhi called upon the international community to keep aside differences, unite and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism.

Modi’s call to Sisi appears to be a move to send out a message to the Arab world and soothe the feathers ruffled by New Delhi’s decision to abstain on the resolution that called for a humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas terrorists killed nearly 1400 people in southern Israel on October 7. They also took 229 hostages. Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes and artillery attacks killed nearly 7000 persons, including over 2500 children, in the Gaza Strip so far. Israel also threatened a ground offensive in Gaza.

Modi reiterated to Sisi India’s long-standing and principled position on the Israel-Palestine issue, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi on Sunday. New Delhi has been calling for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, side-by-side in peace with Israel. After the BJP’s ascent to power in 2014, with India-Israel ties expanding, New Delhi, however, stopped supporting the demand for East Jerusalem to be the capital of the future state of Palestine.

During his phone call with the Egyptian President, the Prime Minister highlighted India’s development partnership and humanitarian aid for the people of Palestine.

India on October 22 sent a military aircraft to Egypt with humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza amid the conflict between Hamas and Israel. A C-17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) flew from Hindon near Delhi to the El-Arish airport in Egypt, with 6.5 tonnes of medical aid and 32 tonnes of disaster relief material for the people of Palestine. New Delhi’s envoy to Cairo, Ajit Gupte, handed over the consignment to the Egyptian Red Crescent for transport to the besieged Gaza Strip and distribution among the Palestinians. The El Arish International Airport of Egypt is about 45 kilometres away from Rafah, the only border crossing into the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel.

(Published 29 October 2023, 18:35 IST)

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