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Government agrees for debate on Gaza, but says not now

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Government agrees for debate on Gaza, but says not now
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New Delhi: After a nod from Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Hamid Ansari to a discussion on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the government said it was ready for a debate but refused to take it up Thursday.

This led to an uproar, stalling the upper house again as opposition refused to take up any other business before the debate.

A discussion on the violence in the Gaza Strip and West Bank areas of Palestine was listed in the upper house's list of business Wednesday.

The government blocked the debate, saying rules did not allow "discourteous reference" towards "friendly nations", and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj wrote to the chairman urging him not to allow the debate.

However, the chairman gave a go-ahead to the debate Thursday, following which the government said a decision will be taken in the meeting of business advisory committee scheduled later in the day.

"The business advisory committee will meet at 4 p.m. We can decide when the debate has to be taken up," union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Prakash Javadekar said.

An agitated opposition, however, insisted the debate be taken up promptly and urged Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien to give a ruling immediately.

Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Naresh Agarwal suggested the debate be taken up under a rule which allows suspending all other rules.

"Either the debate shall be taken up immediately, or we can take it under Rule 267, which suspends all other rules," Agarwal said.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said India also had economic interest in west Asia.

"Peace in west Asia is in the interest of India," Azad said.

As opposition continued its uproar demanding the debate be taken up immediately, the business in the Rajya Sabha was disrupted. The upper house was repeatedly adjourned, losing its question hour, before the chair adjourned it till 2 p.m.

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