The Congress has issued a statement on the recent conflicts in Gaza, saying that it is deeply concerned about India's stand on the Israel-Palestine matter.
"The foreign policy in our country has historically been bipartisan, and the Congress supports the government in its articulation and defence of India's interests abroad. It is in this spirit that we reiterate the traditional position in support of the two-state solution, with appropriate recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of independent Palestine, which must not be undermined by omission," the Congress statement said.
"Press reports indicating a perceptible shift in the Indian position at the UN Security Council on May 16 and our statement in the UN General Assembly on May 20 have conveyed the widespread impression that India has moved away from its traditional policy in the area," the statement added.
The Congress said that it was "appropriate for our initial statement to note that the intrusion by Israeli forces into the Holy Al Aqsa mosque during Ramzan prayers had ruptured the delicate peace in the region".
"Omitting that in our statement to the General Assembly, where sympathy for the Palestinians is far more extensive than in the Security Council, was incomprehensible. It must not be lost in sight that this unacceptable intrusion into the holy precincts was the immediate flash point," it said.
The formulation reiterating "India's strong support to the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-state solution", which was part of the Indian statement in the UN Security Council, was absent from the General Assembly statement, raising questions about the overall direction of India's policy in the region, it said.
"Our later statement at the UN Human Rights Council has also conveyed the impression that we have departed from our time-tested commitment to Palestine and thrown our support entirely to Israel," the Congress alleged in the statement.
The party also condemned the rocket attacks on Israel by the Hamas and said that it cannot be condoned despite the provocation, adding that the disproportionate retaliation by a much stronger, organised military is unacceptable, particularly in view of civilian casualties, including many women and children.
The Congress appealed that both parties should respect the ceasefire and return to peace negotiations, there being "no other path to a meaningful, peaceful co-existence of Israel and Palestine".
"As one of the few countries to have maintained a good relationship with both parties to the conflict, we must not be influenced by expediency to dilute our commitment to Palestine," it said.
Photo courtesy of Canadian Press.