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India's vote against Palestine


India's vote in favour of Israel at the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 6 June,  did not  attract sufficient media attention.  It was on a resolution moved by Israel against the application of Palestinian human rights movement 'Shahed' for  observer status in ECOSOC,   that India voted in favour of Israel for the first time.   This vote marked a departure from India's  historical tradition of standing by the Palestinian people's struggle for freedom.

Although from 1991 India had started diluting its consistent foreign policy of in favour of Palestine and against Israel, the country had not adopted so blatant a pro-Israel position at international for a including the UN, as it has done now.   True, since Narendra Modi's assumption of office,  India's friendship with Israel has vastly expanded.  But even then,  India had not changed its basic policy on the two-nation principle on Palestine, that Israel and Palestine should co-exist peacefully.   

The first vote related to Palestine at the United Nations since Modi came to power was in 2015. That vote was on a resolution by UN Human Rights Council, related to the violence in Gaza .  Even on that occasion,  India had not voted in support of Israel,  but only abstained from voting.   And even when it did so,  India had taken the time and trouble to explain its justification for abstaining,  to Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.  And the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had also explained at that time that Abbas was satisfied with the explanation provided.  That is to say,  even when India merely abstained on a particular resolution,   it had made efforts not to cause pain to the Palestinian side on that issue.

But with the 6 June voting,  India took an open stance against Palestine along with big power nations America,  Britain,  France and Canada.  The Israeli resolution was passed by 28 votes against 14.  In fact this resolution was yet another example of Israel's undying enmity towards Palestinians; it could not be eye to eye with a Palestinian voluntary organization getting even an observer status in a council under the  UN. For it is a body functioning in the domain of human rights.   Israel  would naturally be afraid that such a body becoming part of the UN council would lead to their atrocities being raised strongly at international fora.

This will be no surprise to anybody familiar with Israel's antecedents on the score.    But that is not the tradition of India. Ever since India became independent,  we had a consistently principled stand on the Palestinian issue.  And that policy was in tandem with the Arab countries in West Asia, who have been traditional friends of India.   Even after establishment of full diplomatic relations with Israel during the time of Narasimha Rao,  we had taken a pro-Palestine position on political issues.   But now the 6 June vote has turned out to be a declaration that we have jettisoned it in toto and in favour of an openly reactionary stance. 

What Modi represents is anti-Muslim politics.  It is only a corollary then that it has a mental identification with Israel,  which practices that politics more fiercely than Modi.  But the fact is that the Palestinian question is not a Jewish-Muslim issue.  It is one on which at a global level democratic/progressive forces  stand on side and imperialist forces on the other.  And all the friendly nations of India on international fora,  are with the Palestinian side.

In other words, it is by parting with such a friendly block that India stands by a country disowned all over the world.   How this will affect our national interest in future should have been weighed seriously.   Perhaps, in an anti-Muslim frenzy,  Modi government may not be able to ponder over this.   What ease with which they have overtuned our decades-long foreign policy!

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