New Delhi, July 21 : The government Monday rejected calls for a parliament resolution on the Gaza violence and said the need of the hour was to support the Egyptian-backed ceasefire proposal. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also denied charges that the Narendra Modi government was changing the country’s foreign policy vis-a-vis Palestine. India, she told the Rajya Sabha, desired good relations with both Israel and Palestine.
Replying to a debate in the house, the minister dismissed opposition complaints that the government had been silent on the issue, saying it had reacted to the Gaza bloodshed at the BRICS summit in Brazil. “On July 15 we gave our reaction on the BRICS platform, and the statement came in for praise, there was no shortcoming in it,” said Sushma Swaraj, speaking in Hindi. Prime Minister Modi attended the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa – Summit in Brazil July 15-17.
More than 500 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,000 injured in Israeli military attacks on suspected hideouts of the militant group Hamas that has fired rockets into Israel. The UN secretary general has asked Israel to respect civilian lives. Sushma Swaraj attacked Congress leader Anand Sharma for saying that Modi should make a statement in the house on BRICS. She said then prime minister Manmohan Singh didn’t do so after his last BRICS summit.
In a jibe at CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, she said that in 2008 the violence in Gaza claimed the lives of 1,400 Palestinians and asked if the Marxists withdrew support to the UPA government. Sushma Swaraj said all Arab states were for peace in the region. “The emphasis of the house should be to condemn incidents of violence everywhere in the world and to support the Egyptian-initiated ceasefire… This should be the stance of the house, of parliament and government,” she said.
“Let us speak in one voice,” she added. Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien declined to allow a resolution saying the rule under which the debate was held does not allow for a resolution of any kind. The debate, which was listed in the upper house last week, was stalled after the government said it did not want a debate on Gaza. Later, after the chairman gave the go ahead, the government agreed to take up the debate Monday. The UN Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.