Shocking conduct by India at the World Health Assembly

India was among 20 countries who abstained, during a vote on a ‘draft decision’ on 23 May, proposing support to Palestine in its endeavour to provide health services in the current conflict ridden situation. Discussions on this issue were part of the agenda of the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organisation’s annual high level global event in Geneva, which is taking place this year between May 21-26.

The draft decision titled “ Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” was proposed by the delegations of Algeria, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Yemen

Discussions on this agenda item revolved around a report by the WHO on health conditions in Palestine, available here. At the end of the discussions countries voted on the draft decision (The draft decision on which the voting took place can be downloaded here.) 90 countries voted in favour, 6 voted against (Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Israel, UK, US), and 20 abstained. The voting details are available on p.10 of this document

India used to be a key supporter of the Palestinian cause in all UN meetings including in the WHO. In the WHO, traditionally, India would vote in favour of resolutions on Palestine till 2016. 2017 was the first occasion when India abstained during voting on a resolution on Palestine, clearly because of orders received from New Delhi, given the current Government’s growing economic and strategic relations with Israel.

What is particularly shocking is that the vote and India’s abstention comes at a time when there are horrendous reports of Israeli military action in the Israeli occupied territories of Palestine – leading to a massacre of over 60 civilians in Gaza on May 14.. More details of this are available here.