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India votes in favour of resolution that condemns Israeli settlement activities in Occupied Palestinian Territory

New Delhi: India has voted in the United Nations in favour of a resolution condemning Israel’s settlement in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan – just about a fortnight after refraining from supporting an appeal from the international organisation for humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip.

India joined 144 other nations, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, France, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom, to vote in favour of the resolution titled “Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” at the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) of the UN General Assembly.

The resolution condemned Israel’s “settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan and any activities involving the confiscation of land, the disruption of the livelihood of protected persons, the forced transfer of civilians and the annexation of land, whether de facto or through national legislation.”

The United States and five other nations – Canada, Hungary, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Nauru – joined Israel in voting against the resolution, while 18 other nations abstained from voting on it.

The resolution reaffirmed that the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan were “illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development”.

New Delhi’s decision to vote in favour of the resolution this week is significant as it had late last month refrained from supporting a United Nations General Assembly resolution that called for a humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The October 27 resolution had been put forward by Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group, with Russia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) co-sponsoring it. It had called for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities”. It had been adopted by the UNGA with 120 nations voting in favour of it. Israel, the United States and 12 other nations had voted against it.

India and 44 other nations had abstained from voting on the resolution. India had abstained from voting on the resolution because it had not included any explicit condemnation of the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas on Israel on October 7.

Hamas terrorists had killed nearly 1,200 people in southern Israel on October 7. They also took 229 hostages. Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes and artillery attacks so far killed over 11,000 persons, including over 4,500 children, in the Gaza Strip.

The BJP-led government in New Delhi had drawn flak from the opposition parties for not supporting the UNGA resolution calling for a humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, Iran and the United Arab Emirates and stressed the need for early restoration of peace in West Asia – apparently to soothe the feathers ruffled by its decision to abstain from voting on the resolution calling for a humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip.

India also this week joined the US to support “humanitarian pauses” in Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip in retaliation to the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas on October 7.

New Delhi’s decision to vote in favour of the resolution condemning Israel’s settlement in the occupied Palestinian Territory is also significant because India dropped from its view on the West Asian conflict its support for the demand for East Jerusalem to be the capital of the future state of Palestine. The resolution adopted by the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly specifically condemned Israel’s settlement activities in East Jerusalem, identifying it as a part of the occupied Palestinian Authority.

(Published 12 November 2023, 13:26 IST)

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