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India flays Israeli attacks

India, which had earlier condemned suicide attack on Israel that had left more than 25 Israelis dead, reacted sharply over the heightened and highly disproportionate Israeli retaliations against the Palestinian population. It said that the acts of violence cannot be justified on any grounds.

Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh deplored the Israeli air strikes on Palestinian people and warned against any attempt to undermine the position of Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat. Responding to the Lok Sabha members’ concerns over the bombings over West Bank, Gaza city and around Arafat’s headquarters, the foreign minister assailed the air attacks terming them as an infringement on the sovereignty of a state. He told the Parliament that, ‘there is no change in India’s position which has recognized the Palestinian Authority and its leader Yasser Arafat; nothing should be done to undermine Arafat’s authority. 

Expressing deep concerns over the recent escalation of violence in West Asia, Singh said, the need of the hour is to break the cycle of violence. He also lauded Yasser Arafat’s efforts to bring people responsible for certain terror attacks in Israeli territory to justice.

The minister of state for foreign affairs Umar Abdullah, while addressing a function to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, condemned the Israeli air raids. The Union minister said, ‘We sincerely hope that nothing will be done to undermine President Arafat and the Palestinian National Authority as alternatives are fraught with dangers having serious implications for regional peace and security’. He went on to say, ‘ We strongly condemn the attacks against the offices of President Arafat and other Palestinian institutions. There can be no justification for such acts.’ 

These statements came after concerns expressed by senior parliamentarians like GM Banatwala, Hannan Mollah and Priranjan Dasmunshi. These leaders had sought clarification on India’s West Asian policy. These leaders had lashed out at what they called ‘double standards’ of the US in its fight against terrorism by supporting Israel’s attempts to crush the Palestinian liberation movement.

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