New Delhi: As the Israel-Hamas conflict intensifies, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday described the situation as “very complex”, and conveyed to his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen India’s firm commitment to countering terrorism, observance of international humanitarian law and for a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue.
After a phone conversation with Jaishankar, Cohen, in a post on X, thanked New Delhi for its “support of Israel and of its war against the Hamas terrorist organization, adding “our war is the entire democratic world’s war against a despicable terrorist organization” that is worse than ISIS.
On his part, Jaishankar said: “Appreciated his sharing the Israeli assessment of the current situation.Reiterated our firm commitment to countering terrorism, observance of international humanitarian law and for a two state solution.” India had described Hamas’s multi-pronged attack on Israeli cities on October 7 as terror strikes but at the same time called for strict observance of the international humanitarian law following concerns over civilian casualties in Gaza in view of Israel’s counter-offensive.
Asked if the current crisis will impact initiatives under the I2U2 grouping and implementation of the ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) project, Jaishankar 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.
“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,” he said.
The external affairs minister also justified New Delhi’s decision to abstain on the UN General Assembly resolution on the Hamas-Israel conflict.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
“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.
The UN General Assembly last week adopted the resolution for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce between Israeli forces and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“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,” he said.
“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 said.