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'Clearly unacceptable': India's strong words at UN on Gaza war

January 10, 2024 10:29 IST

India has said that it is in constant touch with the leaders of Israel and Palestine and its "clear and consistent" message since the start of the latest Middle East conflict has been to prevent escalation to ensure continued delivery of humanitarian aid and early restoration of peace and stability.

IMAGE: Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing ground operation of the Israeli army against Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Photograph: Israeli Defense Forces/Handout via Reuters

"The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has led to a large-scale loss of civilian lives, especially women and children, and has resulted in an alarming humanitarian crisis," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said on Tuesday in the UN General Assembly.

"This is clearly unacceptable and we have strongly condemned the death of civilians," she said.

She underlined that India is aware that the immediate trigger was the terror attacks in Israel on October 7, which were shocking and "deserve our unequivocal condemnation. India has a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism. There can be no justification for terrorism and hostage-taking."

Kamboj said India demands the immediate and unconditional release of those taken hostage.

Kamboj told the 193-member UNGA that the "leadership of India is in constant touch with the leaders of the region, including those of Israel and Palestine."

"The message that India has conveyed since the start of this conflict is clear and consistent. It is important to prevent escalation to ensure continued delivery of humanitarian aid and to work towards an early restoration of peace and stability. A peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy is the only way forward," she said.


Kamboj was addressing a General Assembly meeting Tuesday convened after the US had on December 22, 2023, vetoed an amendment proposed by Russia to a resolution tabled in the Security Council on delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the Gaza strip.

The 15-nation Council had adopted the United Arab Emirates-drafted resolution that demanded scaling up humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza but had not called for a ceasefire.

After days of intense negotiations and delays on a vote, the Council had adopted the resolution with 13 votes in favour, none against and abstentions by Russia and the US.

An amendment to the resolution proposed by Russia was not approved after the US, a permanent member of the Council, cast a veto. This veto triggered the UNGA meeting that was convened on Tuesday. The UNGA is now required to meet and discuss any time a veto is cast in the Security Council by any of the five permanent Council members.

India took note of the adoption of the Security Council resolution aimed towards scaling up humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza and commended UAE's “able leadership” in piloting the text.

Kamboj said India has voiced its views on the conflict in multilateral fora such as the G20, BRICS and at the Voice of the Global South Summit in November 2023, reiterating its long-standing and principled position on the issue. India has also called for continued humanitarian aid for the affected population and in this regard, Kamboj expressed hope that the Security Council resolution adopted in December would aid in enhancing humanitarian assistance.

Kamboj told the General Assembly that India has so far provided 70 tonnes of humanitarian aid, including 16.5 tonnes of medicine and medical supplies in two tranches to the people of Palestine.

India has also provided five million dollars, including the 2.5 million dollars it provided in December to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This will go to support the agency's core programs and services, including education, healthcare, relief and social services provided to Palestinian refugees, she said.

Kamboj reaffirmed India's firm commitment to achieving a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine issue. “We firmly believe that only a two-state solution achieved through direct and meaningful negotiations between both sides on final status issues will deliver an enduring peace that the people of Israel and Palestine desire and deserve.”

She said that for this, India urges the parties to de-escalate, eschew violence and work towards creating conditions for an early resumption of direct peace negotiations.
Ambassador Robert Wood, Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs at the US Mission to the UN, said that the adoption of the UNSC resolution had demonstrated Washington's commitment to working with other Council members to speak out on this humanitarian crisis.

“This work supports the direct diplomacy the United States is engaged in to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza and to help get hostages out of Gaza. And it is unfortunate that rather than contributing to the hard work of diplomacy, one permanent member of the Security Council continues to put forward amendments and ideas that are disconnected from the situation on the ground,” he said, referring to the amendment tabled by Moscow that Washington vetoed.

As member states addressed the plenary, dozens of rabbis demonstrated on the balcony inside the Security Council chambers and disrupted the General Assembly plenary session to demand that the U.S. stop preventing the UN from taking urgent action for an immediate, permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Led by Rabbis 4 Ceasefire, and co-organised by Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), Jewish Voice for Peace, and IfNotNow, the 36 rabbis recited prayers and excerpts of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, held a memorial service while holding up banners that read 'Biden: The World Says Ceasefire', 'Biden: Stop Vetoing Peace' and 'Biden: Rabbis Demand Ceasefire Now'. The rabbis were escorted out of the UN building by security, a release said.

Yoshita Singh
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