India’s ‘muted voice’ on Israel’s bombardment of Gaza

PM Narendra Modi while addressing Parliament-20 Summit

PM Narendra Modi while addressing Parliament-20 Summit

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, October 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first few world leaders who denounced the terror attacks against Israel following savage Hamas killings of civilian Israelis. But the diplomatic community is now loudly debating India’s silence on growing civilian casualty in Gaza following relentless bombardment by Israel in hunt of Hamas operatives.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, indeed, has spoken to his Saudi Arabian counterpart to discuss the evolving situation in Israel-Palestinian conflict. But there has been no word yet to counsel Israel to stop killings of civilians in Gaza from India.  

“Certainly, it cannot be that the first-rate Arabist-diplomats in the foreign service are keeping their minister in the dark about the explosive situation unfolding in West Asia. Morally, politically and diplomatically, the MEA’s deafening silence is appalling,” former diplomat MK Bhadrakumar wrote in The Indian Punchline in an article headlined ‘Benjamin Netanyahu is an albatross around India’s neck’.

The weekly briefing of the MEA had reiterated India’s longstanding position in support of the two-state solution to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Former diplomat T S Tirumurti told Editorji that “bilateral relations with Israel and India’s stand on Palestine are distinct policy positions”.

But India’s past overt expression of solidarity with Palestine appears missing at a time when civilian casualty is rising in Gaza. Israel had given a 24-hour ultimatum to 1.1 million people in the southern Gaza to move to the northern parts of the region.

“It blasts to smithereens India’s claims to be a regional power. And it has no plausible explanation. Not only is India’s silence on the massacre in Gaza morally repugnant, it is going to be untenable in strategic terms, as what appeared to the Indian leadership as ‘terrorist acts in Israel’ are dramatically morphing into a savage war in a region where millions of Indians live, earn their livelihood and contribute to India’s economy,” added Bhadrakumar in his column.

India has close diplomatic relations with the Arab World where millions of Indian have been the mainstays of the economies of the constituent countries. India has also been part of I2U2 (India-Israel-US-UAE) partnership. Saudi Arabia has put on hold the impending move to normalize relations with Israel as the popular anger is gaining strength against the killings of civilians in Gaza in the Arabian world and elsewhere.  

However, Modi, while not taking name of any country or region, had reiterated that war is not a solution to resolve any issue in his inaugural address to the Parliament-20 Summit in New Delhi, which concluded on Saturday with a joint statement calling for a global action against all forms of terrorism while rejecting any justifications.

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