As PA expresses ‘shock’ at India’s UN vote, Israel voices appreciation for abstention
Sr. Israeli diplomat: Israel-Indo relationship now ‘without hangups’
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he gives a speech in front of students at the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo.. (photo credit:REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority was “shocked” at India’s abstention on an anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN Human Right’s Council, the PA’s ambassador to India said Tuesday, recalling the days when Yasser Arafat used to call the country’s former premier Indira Gandhi “his sister.”
“We were shocked,” Adnan Abu Alhaija told The Hindu newspaper.
“The Palestinian people and the leaders, we were very happy with the UN resolution, but the voting of India has broken our happiness.
India is a very special country for us, and its abstention from voting can be seen as a departure from India’s traditional position on Palestine, which has remained unwavering over the last seven decades.”
Israel hailed India’s abstention, which was viewed in Jerusalem as “dramatic” and a sign of the very strong relations between the two countries, especially since the election last year of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Israel expressed its appreciation for the vote at a high-level Israeli- Indian political dialogue that took place in the Foreign Ministry on Monday.
Mark Sofer, a deputy director-general in the ministry and head of its Division for Asia and the Pacific, said the dialogue came at a particularly auspicious moment since the relationship, which has been steadily improving over the years, has taken a “qualitative” leap forward since Modi’s election. Now, he said, the relationship has transformed into a “completely normal relationship, without hangups.”
The dialogue, headed by Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold and his Indian counterpart Anil Wadhwa, covered the sphere of bilateral relations – economic, academic, cultural – as well as regional issues such as Iran and Islamic extremism.
“The qualitative change in the relationship is palpable in every single sphere, and that is important to note,” said Sofer, adding that India represents “a quarter of the world population and everyone is running to be there.”
Sofer, a former ambassador to India, attributed part of the improvement in ties to a “chemistry” that exists between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Modi. They met last September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting and – according to Sofer – speak quite a bit on the phone.
Friday’s UNHRC resolution, based on the findings of a UNHRC committee that investigated last summer’s war in Gaza, passed by a vote of 47 in favor, the US against, and five abstentions: India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Paraguay and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
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