On Wednesday, March 5 2008, progressive parties blasted the Indian government in a press conference, accusing it of âaiding and abettingâ Israel in its attacks on Palestine and calling for an end to military and security ties.
Convened by the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation and the Committee for Independent Foreign Policy, the conference launched a mass campaign as well as a signature campaign in parliament to enroll support for cutting Indo-Israeli military ties.
The conference comes only days after the major Palestinian civil society networks and the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces had released a joint appeal to the Indian people and government to cease all military trade and relations. (To read the call, click here.)
Key figures of five political parties addressed the media. The CPI(M), whose external backing of government is vital to the ruling alliance, were joined by the NCP, part of the government coalition, and the Samajwadi Party, the houseâs fourth largest party, as well as CPI and RJD. Main national news outlets are already covering the press statements extensively.
CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said India is “betraying” Palestine and has called for a campaign to force the Indian Government to change its stance. He was particularly critical of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement in Parliament on the situation in West Asia. The External Affairs Minister, while pledging to help the Palestinians in the midst of their hardship and misery, failed to mention or condemn the actions of the Israeli state.
“If somebody from outside this planet reads this paragraph (in Mukherjee’s statement) they would think that there has been an earthquake in Palestine or a plague. The suffering, the misery. Israel is not mentioned,” he said sarcastically.
Karat added that the governmentâs refusal to acknowledge Israeli actions must be reversed if talk about helping Palestinians is to be taken seriously.
“On the contrary the Indian government is aiding and abetting Israel through military and security collaboration,” he said.
Addressing the press conference, NCP leader D K Tripathi said that the people of India are committed to the Palestinian cause, and thus there should not be any relationship with any country at the cost of the rights of Palestinians.
Asserting that the Left has already spoken out against the Government’s silence on the West Asia conflict, Karat said, “my party and the other parties will get together to launch a popular campaign to mobilise people to get the Government to change this stand.”
This call comes after India, which has historically been one of Palestineâs strongest allies, has recently been openly developing its military ties with Israel. Over the past 15 years, India has become Israelâs largest buyer of arms and spends more on Israeli military equipment than the Israeli military itself. In January India launched a spy satellite for Israel that gathers intelligence on Iran. India also carries out joint research projects with Israel on missiles and drones and has started intelligence sharing.
For the dossier on Indo-Israeli military cooperation prepared by AIPSO, click here.