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THE CONTEXT: Recently, there seems to be a shift in India’s foreign policy in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict. This shift seems to be based on domestic identity politics and electoral gains. Also, the preventive detention of a former MP before a solidarity meeting for Gaza residents and the arrest of protestors in different states have raised concerns.
INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY ON ISRAEL-PALESTINE
- India’s historical stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict has always leaned towards Palestine, driven by the need to maintain good relations with Arab countries. It was also guided by the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations.
- India was the first non-Arab country to recognise the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the legitimate representative of Palestine in the 1970s, giving the group full diplomatic status in the 1980s.
- It was only after the PLO began a dialogue with Israel, and as US pressure began to build, that India finally established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992.
- Even then, India remained committed to the Palestinian cause and continued nurturing its relations with the Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East.
- However, in the past few years, India and Israel have come closer due to ideological similarities. Also, trade and innovation have also drawn the two countries together.
- The departure of India’s stand: There seems to be a departure of India from its historical stand in the case of the Israel-Palestine conflict with a shifting focus to Israel despite its historical commitment to the two-state solution. India’s relations with Israel have strengthened considerably in recent years, encompassing various sectors like trade, technology, defence, and counter-terrorism cooperation.
- Ideological alignment: There has been growing ideological alignment between India and Israel in the recent times. Also, India abstained to back a UN resolution for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza is also against the public sentiments showing solidarity to victims.
- Issue of freedom of speech: Recent detentions and arrests of protestors is indicating towards the curtailing of freedom of speech of the citizens who dissent from the government stance. These detentions threaten to undermine all the previous efforts that India’s foreign policy has maintained on the conflict.
THE WAY FORWARD
- Domestic policies should not be affected: India’s diplomatic decisions need to be guided by national interest, necessitating a balance between maintaining strong relations with Israel, supporting Palestine, and developing ties with the Arab world. There should not be divisive policy by formation of identity politics in the nation as it tends to affect domestic policies.
- Need to Condemn terror: Whatever may be the situation, terror should not be allowed in any case and humanitarian crisis needs to be addressed. This ongoing conflict in Gaza is a matter of serious concern, and there is a need for urgent de-escalation with the delivery of assistance to address the issue.
- Status quo on ‘Two-state solution’: India needs to maintain its status quo on the two-state solution by balancing relations with both the countries. India will need to mobilise all its diplomatic skills and goodwill to negotiate with the stakeholders for its long-term strategic interests.
- Diplomacy and dialogue: There is a need to encourage dialogues and exchanges between Israeli and Palestinian civil society groups, academics, and youth to promote mutual understanding and trust. India must continue to act as a mediator influence to encourage both Israel and Palestine to return to the negotiating table.
The support to Israel and the UN resolution vote by India signifies how the India-Israel relationship has shifted. However, the Israel-Palestine crisis is influencing domestic identity politics, which tends to create division in national politics. There is a need to have a delicate balance between its historical support for Palestine and its growing relationship with Israel.
PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS
Q.1 “India’s relations with Israel have, of late, acquired a depth and diversity, which cannot be rolled ” Discuss. (2018)
Q.2 Too little cash, too much politics, leave UNESCO fighting for life.’ Discuss the statement in the light of the US’ withdrawal and its accusation of the cultural body as being ‘anti-Israel bias’.(2019)
MAINS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Q.1 India’s diplomatic stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict has evolved over the years. Discuss.
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