Proud of India, says Palestinian envoy

Won’t back down:Women hold placards during a protest in Chennai on Friday.AFP  

Palestinians are proud of India and India’s support to the cause of peace in West Asia, the Ambassador of Palestine said, hours after India voted in favour of a negotiated solution to the issue of Jerusalem and against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of the holy city as the capital of Israel.

Ambassador Adnan Abu Alhaija’s comments came even as the government was praised by the Communist Party of India for voting against the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. “We are proud of India and India’s friendship with Palestine. By voting for a negotiated settlement of the issue of Jerusalem, India has conveyed to the world that it stands for peace in West Asia. We wish to thank the Indian government, Indian people and their attitude at the UN which will ensure peace in our region and in the world,” he said.

However, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon reiterated his country’s claim to Jerusalem in the backdrop of the developments at the UN General Assembly.

“Jerusalem always was the capital of the Jewish people, is and will continue to be the capital of modern Israel. No vote at the General Assembly can change that,” he said.

Officials said India’s reaction to Mr. Trump’s statement had indicated that India would vote for the UN resolution.

The Hindu had reported that the Arab countries had also reached out to India for its coveted vote. The resolution moved by the Arab countries received 128 votes for and nine against, with 35 countries abstaining.

Apart from the diplomatic dialogue, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj discussed the vote at the Consultative Committee on External Affairs on Thursday. “Sushma ji said that India will vote for the resolution in favour of a negotiated settlement of the Jerusalem issue when D. Raja of CPI raised the issue,” disclosed a source familiar with the meeting.

“The government has taken the right decision by supporting the resolution at the UN, which reflects India’s traditional policy on Palestine, as it is a highly sensitive issue,” Mr. Raja said.

Internal criticism

Significantly, the government faced criticism from within for the vote, with Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta coming out against the UN resolution. “India should either have abstained or voted against the UN resolution condemning the shifting of US embassy to Jerusalem. We should stand by Israel, a firm friend,” he said on Twitter.

The Palestinian Ambassador, however, said the resolution was a clear sign that Israel could not lay any exclusive claim to Jerusalem. “There cannot be any state of Palestine without East Jerusalem as its capital. India has supported the two-state solution traditionally..., ” he said.