SILENCE speaks louder than words. India proved this by abstaining from the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) vote on the Israel-Hamas conflict on October 27.
The message was clear – India does not accept the ‘ends-justify-means’ logic of global terrorism. It differentiates between the legitimate Palestinian rights and brutal acts of terrorism perpetrated by Hamas in Israel.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi had famously said, “this is not an era of war”. But he has also repeatedly called for zero-tolerance against terrorism. The UN resolution called for humanitarian truce and ceasefire in Gaza, but was totally silent on the barbaric terror attack by Hamas in Israel on October 7 that provoked the retaliation.
Significantly, India’s abstention came after an amendment backed by it to condemn the Hamas was voted down. “If we don’t take a stand, who will?” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar asked the critics of the Government.
Justifying its decision to abstain, India flagged its resolute opposition to the ‘malignancy’ of and ‘zero-tolerance’ towards terrorism. It reiterated support for a two-State solution leading to “a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine living within secure and recognised borders, sideby-side in peace with Israel.”
Though unpopular among certain countries, India’s explanatory statement also described the terror attacks in Israel as “shocking and deserve condemnation” and called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of hostages.
India’s voting reflected this concern and is in line with its position since the outbreak of the conflict on October 7. PM Modi had expressed deep shock at “terrorist attacks in Israel” and made it clear that India stands by Israel in its efforts to secure release of hostages and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Moreover, influential figures in the Middle East have been questioning Hamas’ strategy. Turki Al Faisal, a Saudi prince who served as the Saudi Ambassador to the US, has condemned Hamas and said that “targeting of civilian belies Hamas’ claims to an Islamic identity.”
India is not the only country that sought to balance the UNGA vote. It was supported by 59 countries (14 voted against and 45 abstained) that had significant reservations towards the one-sided resolution. Abstaining was the only choice left as voting for or against the resolution would have been a setback to India’s fight against terrorism.
As for serving the humanitarian causes, India needs no certificate from any country. It has been at the forefront of extending humanitarian aid to every country and did so in the case of trapped civilians in Gaza also.