As the war between Israel and Palestine-based terror group Hamas continues to intensify, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday described the situation as “very complex”. He strongly justified India’s stance to abstain from voting on a UN resolution that called for an immediate humanitarian truce between the two sides and asserted that New Delhi is clear in its view of terrorism.
India had abstained from voting on the UN resolution as it did not make any mention of Hamas. New Delhi had underscored that terrorism is a “malignancy” and the world should not buy into any justification of terror acts.
While speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in Delhi, Jaishankar described the October 7 strikes on Israeli cities by Hamas as “terrorism” but at the same time asserted India’s long-standing support for a negotiated two-state solution to the Palestine issue.
“To conclude, it is a very complex situation with many possibilities which are not fully apparent; possibilities, not in a good way,” he said.
On being asked if the current situation will impact initiatives under the I2U2 grouping and implementation of the ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) project, the EAM said it is too early to make any “definitive or even semi-definite conclusion”.
“Certainly unanticipated problems, even of a serious nature can happen and we are seeing one right now. But I do not think because something has happened and that if you have a larger goal and a larger plan that you immediately start rethinking and revising that,” he said, adding, “I think you keep your master plan going. You do the work. You also side-by-side respond to whatever else has happened out there.”
Elaborating on India’s decision to abstain from voting at the UNGA, Jaishankar said, “We have a very clear policy on terrorism. We have no doubt and we have said this very very clearly that what happened on October 7 was terrorism. It is not just a government view…If you ask the average Indian, terrorism is an issue which is very close to people’s heart because very few countries or societies suffer as much as we have from terrorism.”
“When further developments happened and Israelis moved on to Gaza, I think we also recognised as a matter of principle that whatever action is taken, international humanitarian law must be observed,” he said, adding, “When it comes to the issue of Palestine, again we have been very clear that the only solution that we see is a two-state solution. (That) is of an independent viable Palestine state. That state can only be arrived at through direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israel.”
“So you have really now three sets of issues. From a policy perspective, you cannot say I believe strongly on issue number three and that I am willing to disregard issue number one and two, or I believe two, so will disregard one,” he added.
In the afternoon, Jaishankar also spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and “appreciated his sharing the Israeli assessment of the current situation.” Taking to X (formally Twitter), he said, “Reiterated our firm commitment to countering terrorism, observance of international humanitarian law and for a two state solution.”
On Friday, Jaishankar addressed the Joint Session of the Senate’s External Affairs and Defence Commission in Rome where he underlined that international humanitarian law must be respected by everybody. “We all find terrorism unacceptable. We have to stand up on purpose. But there is also an issue of Palestine and there has to be a solution…and our view is that it has to be a two-state solution,” Jaishankar had said, adding, “If you have to find a solution, you have to find a solution through dialogue and negotiation. You cannot find a solution through conflict and so we would support that as well.”