Synopsis: In its recent statement, India tried to maintain a balance between its relations with Israel and Palestine. Why is it difficult for India to take sides in this conflict?
India is a non-permanent at the UN Security Council. It attempted a subtle balancing act by repeating its traditional support for the Palestine cause. However, it didn’t either desert its new friend Israel at a session held for the Gaza conflict.
- India’s Permanent Representative at the UN conveyed distress over the violence in Jerusalem and the possible expulsion of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah. He advised against efforts to change the status quo in Jerusalem.
- He restated India’s strong support for the Palestinian cause and its firm pledge to the two-state solution.
- India was cautious of not upsetting Israel’s feelings. It directly disapproved of the rocket attacks from Gaza. However, no direct reference was made regarding the uneven bombing by Israel on the Gaza Belt since May 10.
- India also did not make any mention of the status of Jerusalem or the future borders of the two states, in line with a recent change in its policy.
How are the relations that India shares with Palestine and Israel?
India supported the creation of an independent, sovereign Palestine state based on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital until 2017. India’s stance this time did not appear to have gone down well with the Israeli side.
- Firstly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked 25 countries that stood with Israel, he did not mention India. India voted against the creation of Israel in historic Palestine in 1947 in the UN General Assembly. Their links with Israel have changed since the early 1990s.
- In 2017, Mr. Modi was the first Indian PM to visit Israel and Mr. Netanyahu traveled to India in 2018.
- Secondly, even though India has good relations with Israel, it cannot ignore the Palestinians for historic, moral, legal, and realist reasons. Historically, India opposed the partition of Palestine. Throughout the Cold War, it stayed a strong ally of Palestinian freedom.
- It took a moral and legal stance against the Israeli occupation, in line with international laws and norms.
- Thirdly, India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. But India never abandoned the Palestinians.
- India’s Palestine policy had radical footings too. It has been dependent on the Arab world for energy. It cannot isolate the Arab voices or be isolated in the General Assembly, where most member countries oppose the occupation.
Several lives have lost in this conflict. However, it is not easy for India to choose between its stand for Palestine since independence and its new ally Israel. Only a pragmatic approach can solve this dilemma of India.
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