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Situation, Resolution, Selection, And…

India has been maintaining cordial ties with both Palestine and Israel for the last couple of decades. As the needs of a State dictate its Foreign Policy, the South Asian Nation is still trying its best to balance its ties with the two belligerent parties. In the latest session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), India has voted against Israel in three Resolutions, while abstained on one in line with its policy towards Palestine. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has issued a statement, saying that New Delhi voted against two motions, one sponsored by China and another focused on Iran, while abstained on other resolutions dealing with the Human Rights situation in Nicaragua, Belarus, Syria, Georgia and South Sudan.

According to the statement, India abstained on a resolution on the Human Rights situation in Palestine, although it voted in favour of three other resolutions, condemning Israel on the Golan Heights. India also expressed serious concern over the expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, apart from supporting the Right to Self-Determination of the Palestinian people. A senior External Ministry official stated that India’s voting pattern in other resolutions, which criticised the Human Rights situation in various countries, including Iran and Israel, reflected its long-standing policies. It may be noted that the 46th Session of the UNHRC concluded on March 24, 2021 with the passage of 30 resolutions and one decision. While voting took place on 15 resolutions, the rest were adopted without a vote.

UNHRC Session

The UNHRC tabled four Israel-related Resolutions during the session, and India abstained from voting on L.31 resolution, titled “Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the obligation to ensure accountability and justice”. Earlier, Pakistan submitted the draft resolution on behalf of members of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), after merging and replacing two previous resolutions on Palestine.

When these two Resolutions were tabled in 2020, India had voted in favour of one of them, and strongly criticised violations of Human Rights in Palestine. However, it abstained in the second resolution about accountability and justice. This time, the UNHRC urged Israel to abide by International Law in order to protect occupied population and to ensure non-discriminatory access to COVID-19 vaccines in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. As expected, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi claimed that the UNHRC had proved to be “an anti-Israel, discriminatory, and hypocritical body”. “I thank all the countries who chose not to lend a hand to this circus and the systematic discrimination against Israel,” he wrote on Twitter.

India also voted against a Resolution on Iran that extended the mandate of the special rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the West Asian Nation for one year. The Resolution urged Iran to co-operate and allow the special rapporteur to visit the country.

According to Foreign Policy Experts, India’s vote against Israel in three Resolutions would have no negative impacts on bilateral ties, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (considered to be a good friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi) may not come to power again. Reports suggest that there is no clear winner in Israel’s Parliamentary Elections, making it difficult for the outgoing PM to form the government.

Although Netanyahu’s Likud Party has emerged as the single largest party after the unprecedented fourth election in less than two years, it still does not have a clear path to a 61-seat majority needed to form a coalition in the 120-member Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. The anti-Netanyahu bloc, comprising of the Left, Right and Centrist Factions, is determined to oust the longest-serving Premier of Israel, whose Likud Party has managed to bag 59 seats. Experts believe that it becomes increasingly difficult for Israel to take the diplomatic pressure on the Palestine issue, as the outcome of the polls confirms a deadlock.

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