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Warming ties: Israel thanks India for abstaining on UNHRC vote

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New Delhi: Israel on Saturday thanked India for not voting on an “anti-Israel bashing” UNHRC resolution, which sources said was a result of Tel Aviv’s sustained talks with the Indian leadership over the past year.

Israeli envoy to India Daniel Carmon tweeted his appreciation. “We appreciate votes by members of @UN_HRC, including #India, who did not support yet another anti Israel bashing resolution. We thank them.”

On Friday, India abstained on a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution condemning Israel over a UN report into the alleged war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza conflict – marking a significant change in India’s stance.

But India also stated that “there is no change in New Delhi’s long-standing position on support to the Palestinian cause”.

Forty-one of the 47 UNHRC council members voted in favour of the resolution, including the eight sitting EU members: France, Germany, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Latvia and Estonia.

Only the US voted against the resolution.

India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Macedonia abstained.

Israel has been in touch with the leaders of the five countries that abstained since last July, when India had voted against Israel in the UNHRC.

Officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office have said that Netanyahu had himself spoken with the leaders of India, Kenya and Ethiopia over the past few days, Israeli media reported.

However, according to sources, Israel began the effort from last July itself.

Israel feels the UNHRC vote on the violence in the Gaza Strip was “politicized” and “unbalanced”. According to Israel, the resolution does not take into account the 5,000 rockets fired into its territory by Hamas.

The upcoming UNHRC vote was also taken up by Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon when he visited India and held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other officials.

“The UNHRC vote has been in discussions for a while with India,” a source told IANS.

Israel conveyed to India that it understands India’s concerns about fighting terror as it is also experiencing terrorism, and both are united on the issue of combating the menace.

Iraeli daily Haaretz, reflecting the appreciation of India’s stand, said: “The fact that India abstained reflects a significant policy change by Delhi; traditionally, India voted in favour of all anti-Israel resolutions in UN institutions. Friday’s abstention was another sign of warming ties between India and Israel since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.”

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, told IANS: “My understanding of the MEA position is that it is our normal practice to abstain when a resolution invokes the International Criminal Court (ICC), and that in this case too, that was done.

“In other words, MEA says the abstention had nothing to do with the merits of the resolution and does not reflect a changed stand on the Israel-Palestine question. Personally I will take MEA’s word for it while stressing that India’s consistent and moral position on the substantive issue must not be diluted. There is a national consensus on Palestine which I would urge the government to continue to respect.”

Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Friday said that India’s reason for abstention in the resolution A/HRC/29/L.35 was the reference to the ICC.

“India is not a signatory to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC.

“In the past also, whenever a Human Rights Council resolution made a direct reference to the ICC, as happened in the Resolutions on Syria and North Korea, our general approach had been to abstain.”

“We have followed the same principle in our voting on today’s Resolution,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi is to visit Israel this year — in the first-ever prime ministerial visit. Sushma Swaraj is also to visit Israel this year, while Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Tel Aviv earlier this year — marking warming in bilateral ties.

An independent UN commission of inquiry on Monday released its report on Operation ‘Protective Edge’, finding evidence that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during the war in the Gaza Strip last summer and calling the devastation caused in the Palestinian territory “unprecedented”.

The members of the commission, which was appointed by the UNHRC, hinted in their report that the upper levels of the Israeli political echelon were responsible for the policies that led to some of the war crimes.

(IANS)

 

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Star ICC Asks Anonymous Accuser Of Sexual Assault Charges To Step Forward

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were "clear instructions" given to make the sales team fulfil the targets.

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Star ICC
#MeToo: Star India internal panel writes to anonymous accuser to come forward

The Internal Complaints Committee of Star India on Sexual Harassment (Star ICC) has written to the anonymous accuser — who had alleged “sexual exploitation” of women employees — asking her to reach out to the committee or its external member on allegations made by her in tweets.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Star ICC, formed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 said it had reached out to the accuser through two emails on the ID provided by her through her tweets. The committee’s external member is Veena Gowda, a Mumbai-based woman rights lawyer.

The accuser, who tweeted through handle @ApurvaS17 — saying she would remain anonymous — had made sexual harassment allegations against the company’s officials in an open letter.

Star ICC
Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt.

Asked to comment on the allegations, a Star India spokesperson said in a statement that despite no response by the anonymous accuser to the messages sent, the Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy” in respect of the allegations.

“We strongly urge any genuine complainant to approach the Star ICC. At Star, we stand with women in drawing the line on any behaviour that violates human dignity or the ability for women to pursue their dreams with respect and freedom. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment,” read the statement in response to an email query by IANS.

It also said that the anonymous tweet shared on October 13 raised an allegation that “runs completely counter to everything we believe in and the norms and values that we deeply embrace.”

The statement further said: “Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt to malign and defame the reputation of the company and the CEO.” It said that Star reserves its right to initiate appropriate legal proceedings in this regard.

Star ICC
The Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy.

The accuser in her tweets had said that the #MeToo movement had encouraged her to come forward and that she had quit her job at Star India in the Airtime Sales section after 26 months and nine days and was now a homemaker, “taking care of my baby and hubby in a beautiful country, far away from Mumbai.”

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were “clear instructions” given to make the sales team fulfil the targets in case they want to continue with their employment contract, “for which even if you have to take the clients to a hotel room and sleep with them for days.”

She said there were many instances when she and three of her female colleagues (interns) had clear instructions to reach a hotel after office hours for a private party hosted for influential friends.

Also Read: India’s Junior Foreign Minister M.J. Akbar Quits Following #MeToo Harassment Allegation By Women

She says the influential friends were “mostly bureaucrats and sometimes politicians and foreign nationals” who were “all ready to violate you, force you to dance against your wishes, drink with them, make drink(s) for them, exchange your numbers and even quietly accompany them to their respective rooms if they want you to”.

Veteran writer-director Vinta Nanda, who earlier this month accused actor Alok Nath of sexually violating her 19 years ago, wrote on Twitter: “I’m neither shocked nor surprised. I salute your courage to have come out and spoken out. The rot runs deep.” (IANS)