India’s votes on two resolutions in the UN General Assembly [UNGA] on October 27, 2023 have raised much debate.
India abstained from voting on a UNGA resolution that called for an immediate humanitarian truce in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The resolution did not contain the words "Hamas" and "hostage". It passed with 120 votes in favor and 14 against. Much of the Global South and the developing world voted for the resolution thus resulting in the Jordan-drafted resolution titled ‘Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations’ being adopted.
India, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Ukraine and the UK were some of the prominent members who abstained from voting.
On the other hand India voted “yes” for a Canadian amendment to a Jordanian proposal on Israel Palestine that condemned the Hamas terror attack on Israel.
Canada proposed an amendment that a paragraph condemning the 'terrorist attacks by Hamas' be inserted. India voted in favour of Canada's proposed amendment along with 87 other nations. However, the resolution was not adopted because it did not get a 2/3rd vote in UNGA.
Indian vote in the UNGA was justified as that of consistency in condemning terrorism in all forms and across the World not just restricted to the regional sphere.
Thus India backed the Canadian proposal and as the clause “terrorist attacks by Hamas,” was not included in the Jordanian proposal, India abstained from the latter.
Some quarters are seeing the proposal as backing Israel which has undertaken ground offensive in Gaza announced by the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on October 28, a day after the UNGA resolution.
India however has taken a number of preventive diplomatic measures to prevent an adverse reaction from the all-important Gulf and Islamic Countries including Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi personally speaking to the head of stats in the recent past.
Foreign Minister Dr S Jaishanker in turn has spoken to his counterparts in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman. What response these countries give to the Indian abstention in the UNGA remains to be seen?
In the domestic sphere as well, there is an adverse reaction from the Left parties. India's abstaining from voting on a United Nations resolution calling for a truce in Gaza is "shocking" and shows that it is shaping its foreign policy as "a subordinate ally of US imperialism," the CPI(M) and the CPI said in a joint statement.
The CPI(M) said it will hold a protest on October 29 at its AKG Bhawan office to express solidarity with Palestine. "It is shocking that India abstained from a Resolution overwhelmingly adopted by the UN General Assembly calling for a humanitarian truce titled 'Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations' in the ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza," they said. The two Left parties said as the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution, Israel stepped up its "genocidal air and ground attacks in the Gaza Strip."
There will be diplomatic and political pressure on India as the Israel ground offensive has been launched and reports of increase in civilian casualties have been received with humanitarian situation in Gaza having collapsed. Internally in an election year, the opposition is bound to rake it up widely.
As the casualties increase, many will come to call upon the government to review the approach and not to condone the Israeli disproportionate response.
India however could be expected to stand steadfast by its partner Israel.