Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak about a United National Human Rights Council resolution against Israel a day before it was put to vote at the council in Geneva on Friday, sources told The Hindu on Saturday. >India abstained from voting on the resolution.
Diplomatic sources confirmed that Mr. Netanyahu spoke to Mr. Modi on Thursday, to discuss Israel’s issues with the resolution on the violence in Gaza in 2014 that left 2,251 dead. But the External Affairs Ministry, in its media statements, did not disclose the fact that the two Prime Ministers spoke.
During the conversation, Mr. Netanyahu is believed to have made several points of criticism against the UNHRC, which he accuses of having an anti-Israel bias. He says the 33-page report equates Israel with the Hamas, and more than 50 per cent of the resolutions at the council since 2006 have been focussed on Israel’s actions, more than those on North Korea, Iran and Syria put together.
Sources said Mr. Modi did not commit to “how India would vote”, but is understood to have had a positive conversation. In response to criticism that India has changed its traditional position on support to the Palestinian cause, the Ministry said: “There is no change in India’s long-standing position. The issue in this particular resolution was the reference to the International Criminal Court.”
Israeli Ambassador thanks India
Israeli newspapers on Saturday credited diplomats with convincing India not to vote against Israel. In a tweet, Israeli Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon appreciated the government’s stand. “We appreciate votes by members of @UN_HRC, including #India, who did not support yet another anti-Israel bashing resolution. We thank them.”
In response to criticism that India has changed its traditional position on support to the Palestinian cause with the UNHRC vote, the External Affairs Ministry said: “There is no change in India’s long- standing position on support to the Palestinian cause. The issue in this particular resolution was the reference to the International Criminal Court.” The fact that the two Prime Ministers spoke, however, was not disclosed by the Ministry in its media statements.
Noting India’s abstention in his official statement welcoming the vote, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki welcomed the UNHRC resolution, saying it “reflects a strong support by the international community at large for accountability”.
Mr. Modi is expected to visit Israel, Palestine and Jordan soon, possibly as early as December-January. India was among five countries that abstained from voting against Israel, which only the U.S. opposed. Forty-one members of the UNHRC, among them all the EU states who are members, voted for the resolution that was presented by Pakistan. In 2014, however, India had voted in favour of the UNHRC resolution that had called for an inquiry into Israel’s strikes on Gaza in retaliation for the death of three Israeli teenagers and rocket attacks by the Hamas group.