Israel Warming up but India vote for Palestine

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NEW DELHI: India continues to perform a balancing act, as it voted in line with the traditional pattern for Palestinian self-determination in a United Nations General Assembly panel in New York on Monday.

India voted in favour of the resolution, along with 159 countries, for Palestinian self-determination at the Third Committee, which is usually referred to as the UN General Assembly’s human rights panel.

India has routinely backed the Palestinian cause as part of its long-standing foreign policy cause. But, since the NDA government took over, there has been increased scrutiny over its move on the Israel-Palestine issue, due to the visibly warmer relations between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.

In July, India had for the first time abstained in a resolution backed by Palestine at the United Nations Human Rights Council, condemning Israel for its Gaza offensive.

This had been taken up by opponents of the Modi government as a demonstration of the tilt towards Israel. India, however, claimed there was no shift in its position on Palestine, and that its abstention was only due to reference to the International Criminal Court in the text.

After that UNHRC resolution, the visit of the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee had worried Palestine, especially after he became the first foreign head of state to stay overnight in Ramallah.

Only six countries voted against the resolution – Israel, United States, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau, while Cameroon, Honduras, Tonga and South Sudan abstained from voting.

Meanwhile, India is gearing up for the visit of Israel President Reuven Rivlin’s visit early next year — which will be the first by an Israeli head of state.

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