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Diplomacy

Modi Reiterates 'Solidarity' in First Phone Call With Netanyahu Since Fighting Started

The Indian prime minister also raised the issue of the safety and security of Indian citizens in Israel, to which Netanyahu gave full support.

New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, October 10, reiterated India’s solidarity with Israel during a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the escalation in violence in West Asia since this weekend.

The fatalities have kept mounting in the fighting, with at least 900 Israelis killed after hundreds of Hamas militants crossed the Gaza Strip border and missiles hit Israeli cities. In response, Israeli counterattacks have claimed the lives of 830 Palestinians in Gaza, and there is growing concern about a potential Israeli ground invasion.

India’s sole official response had been made by Modi on Saturday afternoon when he expressed “solidarity with Israel” through his official account on X

Four days later, Modi reiterated the sentiment when Netanyahu called him on Tuesday. 

“Prime Minister expressed deep condolences and sympathy for those killed and wounded as a result of the terrorist attacks in Israel and conveyed that people of India stand in solidarity with Israel in this difficult hour,” said an Indian government readout. 

He stated that India “strongly and unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”.

The Indian PM also raised the issue of the safety and security of Indian citizens in Israel, to which Netanyahu gave full support.

Just like his earlier remarks, the omissions were also the same. There was no mention of the militant group by name. More significantly, India did not call for a cessation of conflict or the need for restraint, which it had done in previous years at times of rising violence in the region.

Most of the world, besides the US and Western allies asserting Israel’s right to defend, have not only condemned the terror attack by Hamas but also called for exercising maximum restraint. These include Arab countries like the UAE, Jordan and Egypt, which have diplomatic ties with Israel, as well as major countries in the Global South like Brazil, China and Indonesia. 

Japan, was perhaps the only G-7 member, which not only condemned the attack but also called on all parties “to exercise maximum restrain”. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had also stated that Tokyo was “deeply concerned about a number of casualties in Gaza as well”.

Unlike India’s response to the Ukraine war, which had clear bipartisan support, there are sharper differences among Indian political parties in their initial reaction to the escalating violence.

The opposition Congress party had specifically referred to the need for violence to stop and the “legitimate aspirations” of the Palestinian people. The ruling BJP had accused Congress of playing “vote bank politics”.

India’s official position, as mentioned in a public brief by MEA, has been that it supports a “negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, within secure and recognised borders, at peace beside Israel as endorsed in the relevant UNSC and UNGA Resolutions”.