NEW DELHI: The Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally emerged from the closet to vote against a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution “ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”. The abstention has finally reversed Indian policy towards the struggle of the people of Palestine for their just right to a homeland.

The last Israeli attack on Gaza was a pogrom that shocked the world, with large scale protests breaking out against the massive human rights violations. Children and women were killed in large numbers as Israel launched an all out offensive, destroying homes, bombing schools in a travesty of justice and international laws. Since then the Palestinians have been struggling to get the world to take legal cognisance of the crime.

India departed from its traditional foreign policy arrived at by a consensus, without discussion with the other political parties, and abstained in what was a clear move in favour of Israel. Reports claim that the decision was taken after Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu called his ‘friend’ PM Modi. However, this is not entirely correct as there was sufficient information as far back as December---carried also by sections of the media---that India was reconsidering its stand, and looking to abstain from a possible UN resolution on the war crimes.

By abstaining India joins the company of four other countries Ethiopia, Kenya, Macedonia and Paraguay. These stood out against the overwhelming support for the resolution, with 41 countries supporting it. One voted against. Incidentally Israel does not recognise the UN and has always criticised and condemned the body.

This time too was no different. "This Council has lost its bearing. I have no interest in debating the content of the resolution; it is an anti-Israel manifesto," said the Israeli Ambassador to UNOG, Eviatar Manor, in a statement. He maintained that ,"this Council will not succeed in delegitimising Israel.”

Predictably the US representative to UNHRC, Keith M Harper, called for a vote on the resolution and said, "We are troubled that this current resolution focuses exclusively on alleged Israeli violations without any expressed reference to Palestinian violations, even the ones mentioned in the report."

The 50-day Gaza war last year killed 1,462 civilians, and left 11,231 injured from the Palestinian side and six civilians from the Israeli side. These are the official figures.

The Opposition has slammed the government for the abstention. The CPI(M) in a statement condemning the government said, “this is a blatant reversal of the Indian position, where the government had voted against Israel on similar earlier occasions. In spite of the denials of the government, this is also a reversal from the position India had adopted in solidarity with Palestine earlier. The present move appears to be preparing the ground for appeasing Israeli interests in view of the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel.”

The Janata Dal(U) also attacked the government stating,’The decision is against the established policy of our nation and if India continues to follow the same track, no west Asian nation will stand with us in future.”

PM Modi had set the trend last year in New York by singling Netanyahu for a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. This was while Gaza was still smouldering under the devastation of a full Israeli military offensive. Subsequently there has been close contact between the two countries, with several high level visits from both sides. PM Modi will now be visiting Israel this year.

The issue will be raised in Parliament by the Opposition.