India’s abstention on a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council Thursday that called for the establishment of an international independent commission to investigate Israel’s aggression in Gaza marked a decisive shift in its Middle East policy — away from Palestine and towards Israel, diplomats said.
The 47-member Council, which is based in Geneva, adopted the resolution put forward by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) by a vote of 24-9, with 14 abstentions.
Despite intense pressure brought on by Israel’s powerful friends to erode support for the resolution, the Human Rights Council did speak out against rights violations in the Palestinian Occupied Territory after the UN Security Council, which has the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, was blocked by the United States from taking any action even as the deadly Israeli attacks were causing heavy Palestinian casualties.
Subsequently, the OIC and the Arab Group at the UN in New York convened an emergency session of the UN General Assembly on May 20. As high-level delegates, including Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, called for de-escalation of hostilities in the 193-member Assembly, Egypt, which was mediating between Israel and the Hamas movement, announced a ceasefire.
At least 285 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attacks in Gaza and West Bank that continued for 11 days.
Diplomats were not surprised by India’s decision to abstain from voting as its Middle East policy has been gradually changing under the Hindu-nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with a clear shift seen Indian envoys’ statements in the UN General Assembly as well as here in the Human Rights Council that appeared to appease Israel as they only chastised Hamas for its retaliatory rocket attacks.
Pakistan stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people & shares the international community’s expectation for effective implementation of this resolution to ensure respect for international law as well as for rights and dignity of the people of #Palestine. 3/3
— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) May 28, 2021
Those statements also shied away from any expression of concern over the disproportionate use of force by Israel against Palestinians, including women and children, it was pointed out.
Claiming to be a supporter of Palestinian cause, this vote betrayed a different reality: As an occupation power, India sided with another one — perhaps anticipating international censure for its copycat brute tactics in Jammu and Kashmir.
Indeed, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Khalil Hashmi, who piloted the resolution in the Human Rights Council, said in an interview with Anadolu News Agency, “The Kashmiri and Palestinian people are both resisting against foreign occupation and the violent suppression of their rights and freedoms.”
“Both the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the Palestinian question are on the agenda of the UN Security Council, awaiting the implementation of numerous resolutions for the realization of their right to self-determination,” he said, adding that the two situations manifest a “trend among certain countries and groups to ignore human rights at the altar of political expediency and bilateral relations.”
“In that sense, Palestine and Kashmir reflect the deep politicization of global human rights and obvious double standards,” Ambassador Hashmi said.
Among those who spoke in the debate were: Pakistani FM Qureshi, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia; Abdul Momen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Najla Elmangoush, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Government of National Unity of Libya and Riad al-Malki, Foreign Minister of Palestine.
The results of the vote on the resolution were as follows:
In favour (24): Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Eritrea, Gabon, Indonesia, Libya, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
Against: (9): Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Germany, Malawi, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom and Uruguay.
Abstentions: (14): Bahamas, Brazil, Denmark, Fiji, France, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Togo and Ukraine.