New Delhi: Palestinian Ambassador Adnan Abu Alhaija says India’s decision has been “affected” by its “burgeoning military relationship with Israel”.

Hitting out at India’s decision to abstain from the U.N. Human Rights Council vote because of “technical reasons,” Palestine has said the abstention “marks a departure” from Delhi’s “traditional position.”

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, the Palestinian Ambassador to India, Adnan Abu Alhaija, said India’s decision has been “affected” by its “burgeoning military relationship with Israel.”

“We were shocked. The Palestinian people and leaders were very happy with the U.N. resolution, but the voting of India has broken our happiness,” Ambassador Alhaija said.

The remarks, the first on the subject from Palestine, are likely to mean that India’s Secretary (East) Anil Wadhwa, who left on Monday for a week-long visit to Israel and Palestine, will face some tough questions from the Palestinian government.

On Friday, India refused to vote against Israel in a resolution related to strikes in Gaza over a period of two months in 2014 that left more than 2,200 dead, including 1,462 Palestinian civilians. The vote was on a report, submitted during the UNHRC’s summer session in Geneva a year later, that blamed Israel for what it called “extensive use of weapons with a wide kill and injury radius.”

It had also criticised the Hamas militant group for the violence against Israeli citizens, six of whom were killed.

The resolution, which said Israel should bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice, also called on Israel and Hamas to “cooperate fully with International Criminal Court (ICC).”

It was this reference to the ICC that India said it could not support, as it is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that created the ICC, and had similarly abstained from resolutions against Syria and North Korea.

‘India had indicated support’

In its statement, the Ministry of External Affairs denied emphatically that there was any “change in India’s long-standing position on support to the Palestinian cause”, while explaining India’s decision to abstain from voting at the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2014.

In his exclusive interview to The Hindu, the Palestinian Ambassador to India termed India’s explanation of vote (EOV) “unconvincing”, pointing out that other non-signatories to the ICC like Russia and China had supported the resolution.

India was among five countries which abstained, while 41 countries voted in favour of the resolution, and the United States remained the only country to vote against it.

“In a scenario where the European Union members, who were once considered steadfast supporters of Israel, voted against it, India’s abstention stands out as a sore thumb and will send a confusing signal,” Mr. Alhaija said, adding that the vote would “confuse” supporters of India’s UN Security Council membership bid, and also constitute a “clean-break from the ethos of non-alignment.”

He also contended that India had indicated support for the resolution earlier, when he had met with senior officials to convey a written request for support from Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.

Modi-Netanyahu ties

Israeli newspapers have credited the Indian position to Israeli diplomacy led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the eve of the vote.

MEA officials did not comment on the sharp comments by the Palestinian Ambassador, but denied that India had given “any assurances” on how it would vote to either the Israeli or the Palestinian interlocutors.

According to one source, the Palestine government was told about the Indian reservations on the ICC “in Geneva”.

Mr. Alhaija said despite the vote, Palestine looked forward to Mr. Modi’s visit to the region, sometime “at the end of this year and beginning of 2016”.

“We will still like to believe that this incident is merely an aberration and doesn’t reflect India’s diplomatic history and its desire to help the oppressed people of the world. We will still like to believe that this is a one-off incident and not a trend,” he said.

Courtesy The Hindu