Govt blocks resolution on Gaza, says no change in policy

Blocking a resolution against Israel in Parliament as demanded by the opposition, government on Monday asserted that India`s policy on Palestine issue remains unchanged.

PTI| Last Updated: Jul 21, 2014, 23:59 PM IST

New Delhi: Blocking a resolution against Israel in Parliament as demanded by the opposition, government on Monday asserted that India`s policy on Palestine issue remains unchanged even as it refused to take sides over the Gaza conflict by saying that both sides should hold peace talks.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in the Rajya Sabha that "blood bath" and violence anywhere is condemned and wanted a joint message from the House instead of it being divided.

She suggested that both Israel and Palestine should accept Egypt`s offer of peace talks, which she said had been turned down by Hamas, outside supporter of the government in Palestine.

Swaraj was replying to a short-duration debate on Gaza situation during which opposition pressed for adoption of a resolution, demanded suspension of all military purchases from Israel and wanted India to raise the issue at the UN.
Rejecting the demand for a resolution, she said the rule 176 under which the debate was taking place does not provide for any such motion.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien agreed with her while pointing out to the opposition the government was not agreeable to a resolution or motion of any kind and he could do nothing as there was no consensus.

Almost the entire opposition, which had stalled the House last week by pressing for a debate, was unhappy as none of the demands were met and staged a walkout. BJD did not join them.

Earlier, responding point-by-point to the issues raised by the opposition members, Swaraj asserted that the country`s policy on Palestine remains unchanged and attacked the opposition for casting aspersions on the Modi government.

"There is absolutely no change in India`s policy towards Palestine, which is that we fully support the Palestinian cause while maintaining good relations with Israel," she said and emphasised that this policy has been in vogue through various governments including those of Congress, BJP and coalition governments headed by Deve Gowda and I K Gujral.
She also rejected CPI-M demand that India should stop purchase of military equipment from Israel.

She rejected Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad`s contention that India had been late in reacting to Gaza violence as the debate was not allowed to take place last week, saying India`s response came on July 15 in the Joint Statement issued after BRICS Summit attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rubbishing opposition`s allegations that the Modi government was lukewarm on Gaza because it involved Muslims, Swaraj said "We do not discriminate on the basis of religion.