India abstained from voting on a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on May 27, 2021, to launch an investigation into the war crimes committed by Israel during the 11-day conflict in Gaza in May this year.
The resolution was tabled by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Palestinian delegation. The resolution was adopted as 24 countries, including Russia and China voted in favour of it, while 9 opposed it. The UNHRC has 47 member countries. India was one of 14 countries that abstained from voting.
The resolution was adopted at a special session of the UNHRC, which had been called to discuss the “grave human rights situation” in the Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem. According to a statement issued by the UNHRC, “the international commission of inquiry has been established to investigate violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights during the recent conflict”.
Freedom-loving people around the world have widely condemned the genocidal attacks by Israel on the Palestinian people. Lakhs of people have participated in protests against the brutal Israeli attacks on Gaza in different cities of the US and Canada, in London, Berlin and other cities of Europe, and in countries across Asia and Africa. The governments of many countries around the world have criticized Israel and its US backers for the crimes against the Palestinian people and the historically unjust violation of their rights as a nation. The UNHRC resolution reflects this widespread opposition of the peoples of the world, and of many member countries of the United Nations.
Palestine has expressed concern at India’s abstention during the vote at the UNHRC. These concerns were conveyed by Palestine’s foreign minister Riad Malki in a letter to the Indian Foreign Minister, S. Jaishankar on May 30. The letter stated that India’s abstention during the vote on May 27 “stifles the important work of the Human Rights Council at advancing human rights for all peoples, including those of the Palestinian people”.
The strongly worded letter stated: “I write to express our concern by the position taken by Republic of India in the Human Rights Council’s 30th special session of 27 May 2021, on the seminal resolution ‘Ensuring respect for international human rights law and humanitarian law in Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel’.” It further said that, “the Republic of India missed an opportunity to join the international community at this turning point, both crucial and long overdue, on the path to accountability, justice, and peace.” Highlighting the significance of the UNHRC resolution, the letter pointed out that it was the “by-product of extensive multilateral consultations and thorough investigations into and reporting on Israel’s grave violations by States, United Nations experts, Human Rights Treaty bodies, and international organisations”.
In the letter, the Palestinian Foreign Minister emphasized that the root causes of injustice suffered by the Palestinian people include “decades-long dispossession, displacement, colonisation, oppression …and the denial and violation of their every human right by Israel”. The letter stated that “unless these root causes are addressed, the situation will not only remain volatile, but will continue deteriorating with far-reaching and grave repercussions”. Palestine is ready to “engage positively and seriously to achieve this goal and realize peace in the region”, it added.
India’s abstention from the UNHRC vote come at a time when, in at least three recent statements at the UN Security Council, General Assembly, and Human Rights Council, the Indian state has refrained from officially stating its “support for the just Palestinian cause”, in a break from its earlier practice. The official Indian statements have merely referred to “a two-state solution to be achieved through direct negotiations to ensure lasting peace between the people of Israel and Palestine”.
Speaking at the debate in the special session of the UNHRC on May 27, the Indian state’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva equated “the rocket firings from Gaza targeting the civilian population in Israel”, and the “retaliatory airstrikes into Gaza”, while pleading for an end to the violence. He thus sought to cover up the reality that Israel, armed and supported by US imperialism, is the aggressor, responsible for the inhuman mass-displacement, dispossession and genocide of the Palestinian people. He did not state the truth — that what Israel has repeatedly committed is nothing short of war crimes. He tried to portray it as equal to the heroic resistance struggle of the Palestinian people, against the Israeli atrocities and for their right to the restoration of their homeland, which is a just struggle that enjoys the support of freedom-loving nations and peoples all over the world.
As part of its strategic alliance with the US, the Indian state has in recent years desisted from openly criticizing the war crimes of Israel and unequivocally stating its support for the just cause of the Palestinian people. The growing collaboration between the Indian and Israeli states, including in military and intelligence affairs, is a significant factor behind this. This stand of the Indian state threatens to destroy the decades-long ties of friendship and mutual support that have existed between the Indian and Palestinian people, forged in the common opposition to colonialism, US imperialist domination, aggression and war.
Prime Minister Modi’s 3-day visit to Israel in July 2017 marked the strengthening of the dangerous anti-people alliance between India and Israel. It was the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Israel since India and Israel established diplomatic relations with each other 29 years ago. The PM did not utter a single word during his entire visit, about the Palestinian people or their long-standing struggle. The visit highlighted the Indian state’s public embrace of Israel in a strategic relationship.
Israel is the most trusted ally of US imperialism in West Asia. It is one of the most militarized countries in the world. The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has intelligence networks worldwide and routinely carries out terrorist acts in many countries, including the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and the sabotage of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Israel is working closely with the US to redraw the map of West Asia, destroying existing states by unleashing sectarian conflicts and civil wars, including those in Syria and other countries of West Asia.
In particular, Israel is a dagger in the heart of the heroic Palestinian people who have been waging a long struggle for their national rights. Israel has defied international opinion and continues to occupy territories seized during the 1967 war, from Egypt, Jordan and Syria, namely the Gaza strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Israel continues to build settlements in the occupied territories and illegally annex more territories. It has established its capital in Jerusalem, in flagrant violation of the UN and international opinion.
The Israeli State has imposed cruel economic blockade on the occupied territories. It repeatedly carries out savage land and air attacks against the civilian population in the Gaza strip and other occupied areas, causing widespread destruction and mass killings, as it did once again just a few weeks ago. Every attempt to bring about any restrictive action against the Israeli state, or even pass resolutions against its criminal deeds, has been met with a veto from the US in the UN Security Council.
Thus, the Indian state’s abstention from the vote in the UNHRC, its deliberate omission in public statements of “support for the just cause of the Palestinian people”, its open embrace of Israel – all these are a cause of deep concern for our people. They are a matter of grave concern for the Palestinians and all the peoples of West Asia and other parts of the world, who are fighting against imperialism, in defence of their freedom and sovereignty.