- Israel is the world’s only Jewish state, located just east of the Mediterranean Sea. Palestinians, the Arab population that comes from the land Israel now controls, refer to the territory as Palestine.
- Palestine want to establish a state by that name on all or part of the same land. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over who gets what land and how it’s controlled.
- Though both Jews and Arab Muslims date their claims to the land back a couple thousand years, the contemporary political conflict began in the early 20th century.
- Jews fleeing persecution in Europe coveted to create a national homeland in what was then an Arab- and Muslim-majority territory in the Ottoman and later British Empire.
- The Arabs resisted, seeing the land as rightfully theirs, Arab nations battled several wars over the territory.
- Today’s lines largely echo the consequences of two of these wars, one waged in 1948 and another in 1967.
The 1967 war is chiefly important for today’s conflict, as it left Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two territories home to large Palestinian populations.
- Today, the West Bank is ostensibly controlled by the Palestinian Authority and is under Israeli occupation.
- Israeli troops, enforce Israeli security restrictions on Palestinian movement and activities, and Israeli “settlers.”
- Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an Islamist fundamentalist party, and is under Israeli blockade but not ground troop occupation.
- The two Palestinian groups may have reconciled on April 23, creating one shared Palestinian government for the first time since 2007.
- The peace dialogues fell apart, and in July and August 2014, the conflict escalated to a full-on war between Israel and Hamas.
- The key approach to unravelling the conflict today is a so-called “two-state solution” that would establish Palestine as an independent state in Gaza and most of the West Bank, leaving the rest of the land to Israel.
- The alternative to a two-state solution is a “one-state solution,” wherein all of the land becomes either one big Israel or one big Palestine.
Most observers think one – state solution would cause more difficulties than it would solve, but this outcome is becoming more likely over time for political and demographic reasons.
Present-day Israeli and Palestine government approach to the conflict
- Neither side thinks the other is in any position to make a real deal, and it’s not exactly clear how the US government could change their mind.
- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t rely on the Israeli government, which is currently led by a right-wing coalition.
- Settlement expansion is one of the main reasons; settlement construction reached a seven-year highunder Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership.
- Abbas sees the prompt growth during Netanyahu’s time in office as strong evidence that Israel is attempting to make a Palestinian state impossible.
- While Netanyahu did restrict settlement expansion everywhere but Jerusalem for 10 months starting in November 2009, Palestinians wanted a total freeze, and so only sat down to talk in the ninth month.
- Netanyahu has been a critic of a two-state solution to the conflict for decades, and while he’s expressed support for one now in theory, many believe his commitment isn’t genuine.
- Israel has real reasons to be skeptical of the Palestinian side. One major one is the Hamas-Fatah split.
- Since Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel has been concerned that any peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority wouldn’t stick in Gaza, where it has no real control.
- That’s especially upsetting for the Israeli leadership given Hamas’s public commitment to Israel’s destruction.
- Moreover, it’s not clear that Abbas could sell Palestinians on the concessions he’d inevitably need to make in order to make a deal with Israel.
- The two sides’ basic skepticism of each other’s willingness and ability to make peace is the fundamental reason that the peace push led by US Secretary of State John Kerry fell apart in April 2014.
Since then, the Palestinians have turned toward a pressure campaign intended to isolate Israel internationally and put pressure on the Israeli leadership to make peace.
Two – State Solution
- The “two-state solution” would create a sovereign Israel and Palestine, and is the mainstream approach to resolving the conflict.
- The two-state solution has been the goal of the international community for decades, dating back to the 1947 UN Partition Plan.
- It would identify a 1967 demarcation line known as the Green Line to partition Palestinian and Israeli land, subject to land swaps based on negotiations, and it would divide Jerusalem between the two states.
- The idea is that Israelis and Palestinians want to run their countries differently; Israelis want a Jewish state, and Palestinians want a Palestinian one.
As neither side can get what it wants in a joined state, the only possible solution that satisfies everyone involves separating Palestinians and Israelis.
One – State Solution
- The “one-state solution” would merge Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip into one big country.
- It comes in two versions. One, favored by some leftists and Palestinians, would create a single democratic country. Arab Muslims would outnumber Jews, thus ending Israel as a Jewish state.
- The other version, favored by some rightists and Israelis, would involve Israel annexing the West Bank and either forcing out Palestinians or denying them the right to vote.
Virtually the entire world, including most Zionists, rejects this option as an unacceptable human rights violation.
India – Palestine relations
- India’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its attitude to the Palestinian question was given voice during our freedom struggle by Mahatma Gandhi.
- Since then, empathy with the Palestinian cause and friendship with the people of Palestine have become an integral part of India’s foreign policy.
- India was the first Non-Arab State to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974.
- India was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine in 1988.
- In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the Palestine Authority in Gaza, which later was shifted to Ramallah in 2003.
- India co-sponsored the draft resolution on “the right of Palestinians to self-determination”
- India also voted in favour of UN General Assembly Resolution in October 2003 against construction of the separation wall by Israel.
- India voted in favour of accepting Palestine as a full member of UNESCO.
- At the United Nations General Assembly on November 29, 2012 the status of Palestine was upgraded to a ‘non-member state’. India co-sponsored this resolution and voted in favour of it.
- India supported the Bandung Declaration on Palestine at Asian African Commemorative Conference in April 2015.
India supported installation of Palestinian flag at UN premises along with other observer states, like the flags of member states, in September 2015.
- There have been regular bilateral visits between India and Palestine.
- President Mahmoud Abbas visited India in the years 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
- Special Envoy of President Mahmoud Abbas, Dr. Nabil Sa’ath visited India in November 2014.
- From the Indian side too, there have been several visits to Palestine, prominent among them being of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India on 12-13 October 2015, Smt SushmaSwaraj, External Affairs Minister in January 2016, Shri S.M. Krishna, External Affairs Minister in January 2012, Shri L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister and ShriJaswant Singh, External Affairs Minister in 2000, and Shri E. Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs in 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2013.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Mahmoud Abbas in September 2015 on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session in New York and also in Paris on the sidelines of climate change summit in December 2015.
- In April 2015, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Foreign Minister RiadMalki met the EAM Sm tSushmaSwaraj in Indonesia on the sidelines of Asia Africa Commemoration Conference.
- Mahmoud Habas, Religious Affairs Minister, visited India in May 2015 and during the visit, on behalf of President Abbas, conferred ‘Star of Jerusalem’ award on Mr Syed Vicarudin, Head of Indo-Arab League, for his work on promoting India Palestine relations.
Shri Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs visited Palestine on July 8-9, 2015 and met President Abbas, PM Rami Hamdallah, and senior officials from the Palestinian Foreign Ministry.
Projects implemented by India in Palestine
- India has been backing material and technical assistance to the Palestinian people.
- With the Government of India’s aid, two projects were accomplished in the field of higher education i.e. Jawaharlal Nehru Library at the Al Azhar University in Gaza city and the Mahatma Gandhi Library-cum-Student Activity Centre at the Palestine Technical College at Deir Al Balah in the Gaza Strip.
- India provided plot and constructed a chancery building for the Embassy of Palestine in New Delhi.
- Government of India has set up an India-Palestine Centre of Excellence in ICT and Innovation in Al Quds University in 2015.
- During the visit of President of India to Palestine in October 2015, India announced five more projects (worth $17.79 million) for Palestine. The projects include a Techno Park in Ramallah ($12 million), Palestine Institute of Diplomacy ($4.5 million), and India-Palestine Centre of Excellence in ICT in Gaza ($1 million).
India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) Fund has also funded five projects in Palestine, out of which two are completed (Indoor Multipurpose Sports Complex, Ramallah and Phase I of Al Quds hospital, Gaza), two are nearing completion (Phase II of Al Quds hospital, Gaza and Rehabilitation Centre, Nablus) and the work has started on the fifth one (Atta Habib Medical Center, Gaza).
Assistance provided to Palestine
- India provided a budgetary assistance to a tune of US$ 30 million to Palestine in different stages.
- During the visit of President Abbas to India in the year 2008, India announced a grant of US$ 10 million as budgetary support and this was transferred to Palestinein March 2009.
- During the visit of President Abbas to India in February 2010, India announced a budgetary support of US$ 10 million and this was transferred in the month of March 2010.
- Again in 2012, during the visit of President Abbas India announced a grant of US$ 10 million as budgetary support to Palestine.
- During the year 2015, India provided a total of $9 million as financial assistance to Palestine; $4 million was provided as project assistance towards the reconstruction of Gaza (on 12 January 2015), and $5million was provided as budgetary assistance (on 12 October 2015).
- India has announced project assistance to a tune of US$ 30 million.
- In 2005, during the visit of President Abbas to India, India announced project assistance for US$ 15 million.
In the Paris Donors Conference in December 2007, India announced a fresh commitment of US$ 5 million and during the visit of President Abbas to India in the year 2008, India also announced project assistance to Palestine for US$ 10 million.
- Since, trade between India and Palestine is channelized through Israel, complete trade statistics are not available.
- Limited figures suggest that India-Palestine bilateral trade stands at around US$ 30 million.
- In terms of sectors, automotive spare parts, medical tourism, agro-products, textiles, fabrics, yarns, readymade garments, household appliances, stationery products, leather and leather products, agro-chemicals, plastic products, sanitary wares, marble and granites, pharmaceuticals and engineering goods have vast scope in Palestine.
- Apart from trade in goods, there is massive scope for trade in services.
- India’s expertise in IT and IT enabled services; consultancy etc. is widely acknowledged in Palestine.
- In 2014, Indian engineering consulting firm, HOLTEC Consulting has won a tender to prepare a feasibility study for the first cement plant to be established in Palestine by the Palestinian Commercial Services Company.
- TCIL and Satyam Computers had undertaken two major telecom software projects in Nablus for Palestinian Telecommunications Company (PALTEL).
M/s Goldstone Infotech Limited of Hyderabad had tied up with World Trade Centre of Gaza to establish the first Indo-Palestinian Joint Venture in the Karni Industrial Zone in the Gaza Strip in the field of Software Training and Consultancy.
- Existence of cultural similarities and having a small Indian community in Palestine has made Indian arts and culture very popular in Palestine.
- Several cultural activities, including film shows and photo exhibitions have been organized by the Representative Office of India in various Palestinian cities in addition to screening of documentaries prepared by Public Diplomacy division in local TV channels, local schools and youth clubs.
From July 1-9, 2015 an Indian Bazaar was organised in Ramallah. ROI has organized a Kathak performance by Prachee Shah, an exhibition of paintings of Islamic Monuments in India, and a food festival in the year 2015.
Scholarships and ITEC training for Palestinian Nationals
ICCR India offers 25 scholarships for Palestinian Nationals under the General Cultural Scholarship Scheme (GCSC) of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) for higher studies in India.
ITEC 100 slots are offered to the under the ITEC programme to the Palestinian nationals for training courses in India. Around 800 Palestinians have availed training under the ITEC programme.