The Government dismissed the Opposition’s contention in the Rajya Sabha that it had been late in reacting to the Gaza violence.
Rejecting the charge by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad who opened the short duration discussion on Monday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj admitted that the debate had been listed in the House on July 16.
However, India had already given a considered response a day earlier through the joint statement of the BRICS summit in Brazil, she said.
Ms. Swaraj also pointed out that India had established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 during the P.V. Narasimha Rao Government.
The Opposition tried to keep the heat on the Government with Mr D. Raja (CPI) wanting to know why India should maintain equidistance with both Israel and Palestine.
“It is time India should reveal its position on Israel and suspend purchase of arms. Such a strong message should go,” he observed.
Former Union Minister Anand Sharma pointed out that India’s lack of response was disconcerting especially when many countries have spoken and even the UN Security Council has been critical of the killings in Gaza. “India cannot disengage. India cannot be silent. India has to be pro-active.’’
Dr V. Maitreyan (AIADMK) expressed his party’s condemnation of the killing of civilians but tied the support for a resolution to a similar resolution condemning the violence against Sri Lankan Tamils should also be brought to the House. Dr. Maitreyan regretted that there had been no resolution by Parliament to condemn the killing of civilians in Sri Lanka.
However, the socialist camp was more forthright with both Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal-United) and Ram Gopal Yadav (Samajwadi Party) wanting India to support the Palestinians and the Arabs. Mr Brajesh Pathak (Bahujan Samaj Party) wanted all efforts to stop the violence in Gaza. But Chandan Mitra (BJP) felt the Opposition’s logic was “more emotional than logical.”