‘India's aim is to stay in good favor with NAM which presumably would support its candidacy for a non-permanent UN seat’

India's backing for the UN resolution on the Richard Goldstone Commission's report which heavily criticised Israel for its December 2008 military offensive against Gaza was interpreted by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi as a bid to curry favour with Arab and Non-Aligned Movement countries in order to “build up support for its candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the run-up to October 2010 UN Security Council elections.”

American diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks reveal heavy lobbying by the Embassy to get India to vote against the resolution which, it claimed, was “based on the biased conclusions of the Goldstone report.''

A cable (233042: confidential), sent under the name of Ambassador Timothy Roemer on November 4, 2009 — hours before the voting — said: “PolCouns [Political Counselor] delivered reftel demarche on November 4 to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Joint Secretaries for UN Political (UNP) and UN Economic and Social (UNES) Divisions and emphasized the significance the USG would place on India's support for opposing a resolution based on the biased conclusions of the Goldstone report.''

The same cable ends with the “comment'' that India was “likely” to vote for the resolution.

“India is likely to continue to vote along with Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries on issues related to the Middle East as it seeks to build up support for its candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the run up to October 2010 UN Security Council elections.”

Earlier, in a cable sent on September 25, 2009 (227006: confidential), Mr. Roemer reported that the Embassy had delivered a demarche to the MEA Under Secretary for United Nations Economic and Social (UNES) Division Abhishek Verma on September 24.

“Poloff (Political Officer) emphasized to Verma that India's support for a balanced resolution, based on an unbiased approach to the Goldstone report, was of great importance to the United States…. Post (the Embassy) will continue to express our strong interest in this matter and will report progress …,” it said.

Despite strong opposition from America and many of Israel's other allies, the resolution, drafted by Arab and NAM nations, was adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 5, 2009. It endorsed the Commission's report which stated that Israel had used disproportionate force, targeted Palestinian civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure. It was also critical of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups for mounting rocket attacks against Israeli civilian targets.

The non-binding resolution called for independent investigations by Israel and the “Palestinian side” on allegations of war crimes raised in the report. Both Israel and Hamas rejected the allegations.

Americans were to hurl the opportunism charge at India again when they failed to persuade it to vote against a string of “UNGA (UN General Assembly) resolutions with anti-Israel bias.”

“The Indian Mission to the UN in New York will vote in favor of resolutions that reaffirm support for the three UN institutions devoted exclusively to Palestinian issues as New Delhi remains unwilling to review its policy on Israeli-Palestinian issues,” said a cable dated November 19, 2009 (235589: confidential).

Commenting on India's position, Mr. Roemer returned to his old theme that its “aim is to stay in good favor with NAM countries which presumably would support India's candidacy for a non-permanent seat during October 2010 UN Security Council elections.”

He wrote: “Despite India's good relations with Israel, India's interests in fora like the UN are usually in lockstep with Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries, especially on issues related to the Middle East…The Indian Government is likely to remain inflexible on its UN voting strategy through the 64th UN General Assembly and continue to support resolutions with an anti-Israel bias. Its aim is to stay in good favor with NAM countries which presumably would support India's candidacy for a non-permanent seat during October 2010 UN Security Council elections.”

(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via Wikileaks.)