In A Turn-Around, India Votes For Gaza Ceasefire
NEW YORK, NY (IANS) – Faced with the “challenge” to “strike the right balance”, India has joined the General Assembly’s call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, reversing its earlier position of abstaining.
After the resolution was adopted on November 12 with 153 votes, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ruchira Kamboj, outlined the complicating factors, the terrorist attack on October 7 on Israel, the humanitarian crisis, and the deaths of civilians and said, “Our challenge in this extraordinarily difficult time is to strike the right balance.”
The resolution presented by Egypt and Mauritania with scores of co-sponsors received only 10 votes against and there were 23 abstentions.
It also demanded the release of all hostages and called on all parties to comply with their international obligations, especially for protecting civilians and to ensure humanitarian access for relief to Gaza.
The resolution is only symbolic because, unlike the Security Council, it does not have enforcement powers.
The UN has warned of a breakdown in the humanitarian system in Gaza where a majority of its 2.2 million residents have been displaced from their homes and face hunger and disease.
Illustrating the change in attitudes towards Israel, the earlier resolution on October 27 received 121 votes and it has risen to 153 for the latest resolution, while votes against came down from 14 to 10, and abstentions 44 to 23.
India, in a change from its policy of firm support for Palestine, had abstained on the October resolution because it did not condemn terrorism. But this time it voted for the latest resolution even though it did not condemn terrorism or name Hamas.
India supported an amendment moved by Austria to name Hamas as the party holding hostages and another by the US to condemn “the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas,” both of which were voted down.
The US, Israel, and Austria were among the 10 countries voting for the resolution, while Britain and Germany were among the abstainers.
India, which has been facing pressures internally and internationally to take a stand for a ceasefire because of the spiraling humanitarian crisis, took a finely balanced approach this time voting for the two amendments and the resolution as a whole.
UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis set the stage for the vote on the resolution saying, “Right now, what we are seeing is an onslaught on civilians, the breakdown of humanitarian systems, and profound disrespect for both international law and international humanitarian law.”
“Clearly, what we are witnessing is the unprecedented collapse of an already-crumbling humanitarian system, in real time,” he said.