On Friday, India abstained on a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution condemning Israel over a UN report into the alleged war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza conflict – marking a significant change in India’s stance. Forty-one of the 47 UNHRC council members voted in favour of the resolution, including the eight sitting EU members: France, Germany, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Latvia and Estonia. Only the US voted against the resolution. India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Macedonia abstained.

Israel on Saturday thanked India for not voting on an “anti-Israel bashing” UNHRC resolution, which sources said was a result of Tel Aviv’s sustained talks with the Indian leadership over the past year. Israeli envoy to India Daniel Carmon tweeted his appreciation. “We appreciate votes by members of @UN_HRC, including #India, who did not support yet another anti Israel bashing resolution. We thank them.”

The Human Rights and  Alliance of Civilization Chamber in Geneva. Image Credits: https://goo.gl/3yQNAo

The Human Rights and Alliance of Civilization Chamber in Geneva. Image Credits: https://goo.gl/3yQNAo

While it is good news for Isreal, Palestine is certainly not happy with India’s decision to abstain. 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.

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.

Prime Minister Modi is to visit Israel this year in the first-ever prime ministerial visit. Sushma Swaraj is also to visit Israel this year, while Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Tel Aviv earlier this year marking warming in bilateral ties.