Explained: The India-Israel relationship

News: Recently India and Israel had marked 30 years of full diplomatic relations. Despite the ongoing Pegasus controversy, leaders of both countries congratulate each other on this occasion.

Read here: India and Israel relationship: Namaste, Shalom to friendship
About India- Israel relations

1990: Though India recognized Israel in 1950, normalization took another 4 decades. This was aided by the weakening of Arab support to Palestine. This improved further after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

1992: While there were defense deals and cooperation in S&T and agriculture, India balanced its ties with its historical support for the Palestinian cause, its dependence on the Arab world for oil, and the pro-Palestinian sentiments of the country’s Muslim citizens.

2000: L K Advani became the first Indian minister to visit Israel. The same year, Foreign Minister also visited Israel. The two countries also set up a joint anti-terror commission in that year.

2003: Ariel Sharon became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India.

2017: The year marks the first visit of the Indian Prime minister to Israel. With Abrahamic accords in 2020, UAE, Sudan, Bahrain, and Morocco normalized relations with Israel. This has made India more confident of its relations with Israel.

Read here: India – Israel relationship at a glance
About India – Palestine relations

Despite Indo-Israel ties, India is walking the tightrope between Palestinian and Israel cause. This was evident in India’s statement in UN Security Council where India held Israel responsible for violence and explicit strong support to just Palestinian calls and a two-state solution. Earlier, India went to the extent of backing Palestinian self-determination and even rallied behind the Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO) and its leader Yasir Arafat.

Read here: Indian Model presents a viable solution to Israel-Palestine Conflict

India also voted for Palestine to become a full member of UNESCO in 2011. In 2012, it co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution that enabled Palestine to become a “non-member” observer state at the UN without voting rights. India also supported the installation of the Palestinian flag on the UN premises in September 2015.

Read here: India’s Palestine policy
How there is a shift in India’s policy towards Israel and Palestine?

The first big shift came in 2017 when India dropped the customary line in support of East Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine. Indian PM visit to Israel did not include Ramallah, which was the customary practice.

But the balancing act has continued. Indian PM made a separate visit to Ramallah in 2018. He calls for an independent Palestinian state. India abstained at UNESCO in December 2017 and voted against the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

At UNHRC’s 46th session in Geneva in 2021, India voted against Israel in three resolutions – the right of self-determination of Palestinian people, Israeli settlement policy and on human rights situation on Golan Heights. India abstained on fourth resolution which asked for UNHRC report on the human rights situation in Palestine.

In 2021, International Criminal Court claimed jurisdiction to investigate human rights abuses in Palestinian and blamed the Israeli security forces and Hamas for the same, India refused to take any stand on the same.

Read here: India’s Stand on Palestine and Israel Conflict

Source: This post is based on the article ” Explained: The India-Israel relationship” published in Indian Express on 3rd February 2022.

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