The Congress party, the Samajwadi Party and the Left, among others, condemned the violence in Gaza during a discussion in Rajya Sabha on Monday. While the Congress condemned the use of violence by both, the Hamas and the Israeli forces, CPI politburo member Sitaram Yechury demanded that India suspend military purchases from Israel.
Former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had also condemned the US invasion of Iraq, Yechury reminded the BJP-led union government that has been shy of coming out with a strong statement against the violence that has now killed 501 people since the conflict escalated over the past fortnight.
Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad urged the house to pass a resolution against Israel as well as Hamas for the use of force. "We should have been the first nation to discuss Gaza, we are the largest democracy. It is India's job to defend a small nation that is being pressurised," Azad said. While he did not specifically mention Israeli use of force, he said, "Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense as England belongs to English," Azad said quoting Mahatma Gandhi's article which appeared in The Harijan.
Nabi added that it was wrong to impose Judaism on Arabs and then went on to also remind the government of Vajpayee's stand on the US invasion of Iraq.
"We want to know from the government if there is any change in our foreign policy since the time of Nehru and Vajpayee," he said.
Azad also said that in the fighting until three days ago, 1500 tonnes of ammunition was used in the Gaza Strip. Nabi also cited UN figures to say 60,000 people had been rendered homeless as the conflict escalated.
"Hospitals have been destroyed. No medication is available, 3,500 people are injured. Who will help them?" asked Azad.
With none of Ghulam Nabi Azad's caution in describing Israel's role, Yechury made two demands, one that the house pass a strongly worded resolution and the other that India stop making any defence purchases from Israel, a country he described as the "biggest terrorist" for illegally occupying Government of Palestine land. This is a popularly elected government and India must not allow a war against an elected government. "The government of Palestine has been elected by the people, we must respect it," Yechury said.
Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (U) and BJP leader Anil Dave also spoke in the Rajya Sabha.
Meanwhile, it was the Aam Aadmi Party that issued the strongest statement from any political party yet on India's stand on the issue. The statement said the fact that the Modi government has remained ambiguous about the violence and has refused to condemn Israeli aggression raises serious questions about the Modi government's foreign policy priorities.
The statement demanded that both Houses of Parliament immediately pass unanimous resolutions condemning the attacks on Gaza. Parliament should "not allow the Narendra Modi government to reverse the decades-old stand of the country on this important issue," the statement said.
AAP also demanded that the Indian government seek action against Israel's "repeated and widespread violations of human rights". It must stop purchasing arms from Israel, AAP said.
That the NDA government is blocking a similar discussion on Gaza in the Lok Sabha is shocking, the statement added.
"The Modi government’s ambigious stand and refusal to condemn the Israeli aggression at this crucial juncture violates the well settled principles of Indian foreign policy. It also raises serious questions about the dangerous direction in which the Narendra Modi government appears to be taking the country's foreign policy," it said. "The BJP government’s stand on Gaza has lowered India’s standing in the international community. Earlier the UPA and now the NDA government, both were gradually tilting towards Israel, but the latest action of the Modi government has hit a new low."
Updated Date: Jul 21, 2014 13:55:24 IST