India remains committed to its long-standing support for the establishment of a “sovereign, independent and viable” state of Palestine notwithstanding its unequivocal condemnation of the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7 and calling these as terror attacks.
This was clarified by the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in his briefing to the media.
“Our policy has been longstanding and consistent. India always advocated the resumption of direct negotiations towards establishing a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side at peace with Israel. I think that position remains the same,” he said.
This addresses concerns in some quarters in India and abroad that New Delhi’s growing ties with Israel could mean it’s closing doors on Palestine.
India has traditionally maintained close ties with the Palestine Liberation organization (PLO) founded by Yasser Arafat and that controls the peaceful and democratic part of Palestine – the West Bank of the proposed Palestinian nation.
Even after India established full diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, it’s policy for supporting Palestinians in getting their homeland has continued.
New Delhi hosts Ambassador of Palestine Adnan Abu Alhaija, who has been invited to many pro-Palestinian rallies in Kerala.
In the meanwhile, a flight carrying the first batch of Indians, who were stranded in Israel amid the ongoing war, landed in New Delhi under ‘Operation Ajay’ on Friday morning.
As many as 212 Indian nationals from Israel have arrived at the Delhi airport. Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar was present at the airport to welcome them.
Welcome to the homeland!
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) October 13, 2023
With folded hands, Chandrasekhar greeted the returning Indians. He then interacted with the students.
The union minister reassured the passengers, saying India’s commitment to the safety of every Indian is unwavering. Prime Minister Modi is determined to protect them, he added.
“Our government will never leave any Indian behind. Our government, our Prime Minister is determined to protect them and bring them back home safely. We are grateful to EAM Dr S Jaishankar, the team at the External Affairs Ministry, the flight crew of this Air India flight for making this possible, for bringing our children back home safely and soundly and back home to their loved ones,” Chandrasekhar said.
An Indian national who returned from Israel told ANI, “This is the first time that we are facing this situation over there. We are very thankful to the Indian government, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing us back. We are hoping for peace as soon as possible so that we can go back to work as earliest as possible…”
The first batch of Indian passengers boarded the flight from Tel Aviv to India under Operation Ajay on Thursday.
On the occasion, Indian Ambassador to Israel, Sanjeev Singla said that the Indian Embassy in Israel is working to ensure the well-being of Indian nationals in war-torn Israel and informed that under “Operation Ajay” the embassy will help Indians who want to return to India.
“As I said yesterday, the Embassy of India in Tel Aviv has been working continuously to ensure the safety and welfare of all our Indian citizens in Israel. Yesterday, the external affairs minister announced Operation Ajay to help those Indians who wish to return to India. And today, under Operation Ajay, the first flight is going back to India,” he said.
He added, “It’s going to have almost 200 Indian citizens – students, caregivers, and business professionals, and we are trying to ensure that we have a similar flight in the coming days. We will have, one flight tomorrow…I would like to reach out to my fellow Indian citizens here and urge them to remain calm and stay safe by following the local safety advisories and I want to tell them that we’re always there with them. We are standing with them.”
In an exclusive interview with ANI, an Indian citizen returning back to India in the first flight from Tel Aviv thanked the Indian government for assisting in the tough times and asserted that they have got a lot of help through “Operation Ajay”.
Earlier on Thursday, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “As announced by EAM yesterday, Operation Ajay has been launched to facilitate the return from Israel of our citizens who wish to come back. The first chartered flight will be reaching Tel Aviv later tonight to pick up the Indian citizens and is likely to return to India tomorrow morning,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson said while addressing a media briefing here today.”We are keeping a close watch on the situation in Israel.”
The MEA spokesperson also said that there were no Indian casualties so far.”We haven’t heard of any casualty so far,” he said.”Around 18,000 Indians are in Israel. There is conflict going on and it is a matter of concern. Indians advised to follow advisories issued by our mission,” Bagchi said.
“Operation Ajay” was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring back around 18,000 Indians in Israel. Registration of Indians began on Thursday.