Government Refuses to Take Sides over Gaza Conflict

Replying to the debate, Sushma wanted to send a joint message that both Israel and Palestine should accept Egypt’s offer of peace talks.

Published: 22nd July 2014 08:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd July 2014 09:01 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday prevented any resolution condemning Israel for its military action in Gaza, which led to Opposition walkout in the Rajya Sabha even as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj asserted that there is no change in India’s foreign policy on the Palestinian issue.

The Rajya Sabha on Monday debated the Gaza issue for three hours as a short duration discussion.

Replying to the debate, Sushma wanted to send a joint message that both Israel and Palestine should accept Egypt’s offer of peace talks.

Stoutly opposing the demand for a resolution, Sushma pointed out that the Rule under which discussion was taken up does not provide for any resolution. 

With the government’s rejection for a resolution, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the government has not agreed for a resolution and there was no consensus on it. Not satisfied with the government’s refusal for a resolution, the Opposition members staged a walk out.

However, the BJD and AIADMK did not join the Opposition.

The External Affairs Minister recited the poems of renowned lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi to emphasise the foreign policy on Palestine issue and said that policy is continuing.

Reacting to Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s contention that India had been late in reacting to Gaza violence, she pointed out that India gave its reaction on July 15 itself in the joint statement of BRICS.

Sushma reminded the House that India had established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 when P V Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister.

Sushma said Isreal-Palestine dispute could have been resolved by now if both of them agreed for a ceasefire proposal mooted by Egypt following escalation of violence.  Dismissing the allegations that Modi Government was lukewarm on Gaza because it involved Muslims, Sushma said, “We do not discriminate on the basis of religion.” She pointed out that the government had rescued 40 Indians from Saudi Arabia and all of them are Muslims.  She also rejected the suggestion by some of the Opposition members that India should stop purchase of military equipment from Israel.

Azad initiated the discussion with regret that the debate should have happened six days earlier.

“I am sad to say that while India is considered a power voice, we have remained on the sidelines. We should have been the first country to raise voice. This is not the job of the Opposition, but of government,” he said.

Azad quoted from a statement of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who also gave full-hearted support to the Palestine cause.  “I want to ask the government if there has been any change in the foreign policy related to Gaza,” he asked.

Earlier, Azad said that if powerful countries wanted, they could have stop the violence within 24 hours.

Ahmed Hassan of the Trinamool Congress said the government should raise the issue at the United Nations as the two-nation theory in case of Israel and Palestine is not being recognised.

99 Intoxicated Pilots Grounded in 3 Yrs  

New Delhi: In the last three years, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, grounded 99 pilots who turned up drunk to work, despite prohibition on consumption of intoxicants under Aircraft Rules. In 2014 alone, 10 pilots were found be drunk during pre-flight medical examination,” Minister of State, Civil Aviation, G M Siddeshwara told the Lok Sabha. He also said 41, the maximum number of pilots were tested positive in 2012, followed by 31 pilots in 2013. These figures reveal an upward trend in the violation of air safety norms. 

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