New Delhi, July 21 IANS | 5 months ago

Hitting out at the government's criticism over its stance on the Gaza conflict, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Monday said the emphasis of parliament and the government should be to condemn violence the world over and to support the Egypt-backed ceasefire proposal on Gaza.

A feisty Sushma Swaraj also clarified that there is no change in the Narendra Modi government's foreign policy with regard to Israel and Palestine and it believed in good relations with both.

Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the conflict in the Gaza Strip, the external affairs minister asked how could the opposition members accuse the government of not speaking on the issue as on July 15 India had reacted to it in a joint statement issued at the BRICS summit in Brazil.

"On July 15 we gave our reaction on the BRICS platform, and the statement came in for praise, there was no shortcoming in it," said Sushma Swaraj, speaking in Hindi. Prime Minister Modi attended the BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa - Summit in Brazil July 15-17.

She attacked Congress leader and former minister Anand Sharma for saying that Prime Minister Modi should make a statement in the house on the issue, saying that during the previous government, then prime minister Manmohan Singh did not make a statement in parliament after attending BRICS summit.

In a jibe at Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, she said that in 2008, the violence in Gaza claimed the lives of 1,400 Palestinians and asked if the CPI-M had then withdrawn support to the United Progressive Alliance government over the issue.

Sushma Swaraj said all Arab states were for peace in the region.

"The emphasis of the house should be to condemn incidents of violence everywhere in the world and to support the Egyptian-initiated ceasefire... This should be the stance of the house, of parliament and government," she said.

The debate in parliament comes even as the UN Security Council has called for an "immediate ceasefire" while Israel is pressing ahead with its fierce assault on Gaza, which has taken the Palestinian toll to above 500.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has also headed for the region to give a fillip to the truce efforts.

(Posted on 21-07-2014)

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