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Decoding India’s abstention in UN Gaza ceasefire vote

UN Headquarters, New York, October 28:   India’s abstention from the UN General Assembly vote on a resolution seeking a humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict has incited considerable debate, in the strategic and diplomatic community.

India’s decision to abstain has gained significant attention due to its principled reservation concerning the exclusion of the terrorist organization Hamas from the resolution’s text.

The resolution, titled “Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations” was presented by Jordan. It called for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, with a strong emphasis on ensuring unrestricted humanitarian access in the Gaza Strip.

Notably, more than 40 nations, including Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, and South Africa, co-sponsored this resolution in a collective effort.

India’s decision to abstain placed it among a group of nations from the Western bloc, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The resolution received significant support, with 120 nations voting in favor, only 14 opposing it, and a notable 45 countries choosing to abstain.

Before the General Assembly vote, an amendment was proposed by Canada and backed by the United States, to include a paragraph in the resolution that strongly condemned the acts of terrorism by Hamas and called for the immediate release of hostages held by the group.

India firmly supported this amendment, along with a significant coalition of 87 nations. In contrast, 55 nations opposed it, and 23 chose to abstain. However, the amendment was not adopted.

Ambassador Yojna Patel, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a strong message, saying, “The terrorist acts in Israel on October 7th were deeply disturbing and deserve unequivocal condemnation. Our thoughts are with those who have been taken hostage, and we firmly call for their immediate and unconditional release”.

Patel stressed the universal threat of terrorism, one that knows no boundaries of geography, nationality, or ethnicity.

Patel not only expressed its support for international efforts to de-escalate the conflict and provide humanitarian aid to Gaza but also called on all parties to stop the fighting, renounce violence, and work towards conditions for direct peace talks.

India hoped that the UN General Assembly’s discussions would strongly emphasize the global rejection of terrorism and violence, promoting diplomacy, dialogue, and the relief of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

The resolution was quite significant with respect to the humanitarian handling of the conflict, as it called for an immediate and lasting ceasefire to help the people of Gaza. It stressed the importance of getting essential supplies to the people there without any problems.

This resolution also had strict rules about letting organizations like the UN Relief and Works Agency and the International Committee of the Red Cross provide help to those in need in Gaza.

It also asked everyone to follow international laws that protect people during conflicts and highlighted the importance of keeping civilians safe and ensuring their rights. Additionally, it strongly urged the quick and unconditional release of hostages.

The resolution, however, failed to take a strong stand against acts of terrorism, primarily perpetrated by Hamas against the state of Israel and Israeli citizens, leading to India’s abstention along with 44 other nations.

India’s abstention in this significant vote reflects the complex geopolitical dynamics surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict.

It underscores India’s firm commitment to counter-terrorism while supporting humanitarian efforts to address the ongoing crisis. In doing so, India has stimulated global discussions on the multifaceted interests and concerns related to the Middle East conflict.

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