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No change in India's policy on Palestine: Swaraj

New Delhi: Asserting that India's policy on Palestine issue remains unchanged, government today refused to take sides over the Gaza conflict as it said Israel and Palestine should have peace talks and forestalled a resolution in Rajya Sabha which was demanded by the opposition.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the House should not be divided but send out a joint message that wherever there is violence, it is condemnable and both Israel and Palestine should accept Egypt's offer of peace talks.

She was replying to a short-duration debate on Gaza situation during which opposition condemned the violence in Gaza, pressed for adoption of a resolution, demanded suspension of all military purchases from Israel and wanted India to raise the issue at the UN.

Rejecting opposition demand for a resolution, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the Rule 176 under which the discussion took place does not provide for a resolution or motion of any kind. Besides, he pointed out that the government was not agreeable to a resolution or motion of any kind and there was no consensus, because of which he could do nothing.

Almost the entire opposition, which had stalled the House last week by pressing for a discussion on the issue, was unhappy as none of the demands were met and staged a walkout. BJD, however, did not join them.

Earlier, responding point-by-point to the issues raised by the opposition members during the debate, Swaraj asserted that the country's policy on Palestine remains unchanged and attacked the opposition for casting aspersions on the Modi government.

"There is absolutely no change in India's policy towards Palestine, which is that we fully support the Palestinian cause while maintaining good relations with Israel," the Minister said and emphasised that this policy has been in vogue through various governments including those of Congress, BJP and coalition governments headed by Deve Gowda and I K Gujral.

She also rejected the demand by some opposition parties that India should stop purchase of military equipment from Israel.

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