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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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President Ram Nath Kovind Pays His Condolences to Former UN Chief Kofi Annan

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the UN in 2001 "for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world".

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India condoles former UN chief Kofi Annan's death.
India condoles former UN chief Kofi Annan's death. Flickr

India on Saturday condoled the death of former UN Secretary General and Nobel laureate Kofi Annan with President Ram Nath Kovind expressing his condolences to the former Ghanaian diplomat’s family and the UN community as a whole.

“Sorry to learn of the passing of former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan,” Kovind said on the Rashtrapati Bhavan Twitter handle.

“My condolences to his family and to the UN community,” he stated.

Annan, 80, died on Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, with his wife and three children by his side.

“It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that the former Secretary General of the UN and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness,” his family said.

Kofi Annan
Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006. Flickr

Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006. He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

He also led a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar.

The Myanmar government led by Aung San Suu Kyi supported Annan’s recommendations on the crisis in the country’s Rakhine State.

Also Read: New AI Model to Identify the Risk of Heart Disease in Indians

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the UN in 2001 “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.

His tenure as the UN chief coincided with the Iraq war and the HIV/Aids pandemic. (IANS)