Foreign Affairs
Can India change policy on Israel-Palestine?

There are signs that India has been leaning towards Israel for the past two decades. The reasons behind this are the changed politics in India, and threads of similar situations in Israel and India.

India remained neutral during the resolution against Israel in the United Nations. Although India has taken a more or less neutral position in the conflict between Israel and Palestine over the years, there have been signs that India has been leaning towards Israel over the past two decades. Although India has not yet taken such an official position, small incidents are indicating it. The reasons behind this are the changed politics in India, and threads of similar situations in Israel and India.

Which is the United Nations resolution in which India remained neutral?

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on Friday by 87 to 26 votes against human rights violations in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. 53 countries including India remained neutral during the resolution.

The resolution requested that the UN Legislature issue guidelines on Israel’s conduct. Although the resolution is seen as the world’s vote against (government-sponsored) violence in Israel-occupied Palestine, it also underscores the fact that more than 50 countries, including India, have avoided taking sides.

What is the background of the Israel-Palestine conflict?

The country of Israel came into being on May 14, 1948, after acquiring some lands in West Asia including Palestine. Before that, Arab countries in the region were opposed to giving their land to Jewish citizens for an independent state. Therefore, the Arab countries of the region stood in favour of Arab-majority Palestine.

Since then, the two countries have been fighting. Sometimes in actual war and sometimes in extremist activities and unilateral military operations, thousands of citizens have lost their lives. However, the latest resolution by the United Nations is about the territory of Palestine which was forcibly occupied by Israel in 1967. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and some additional territory in the city of Jerusalem added fuel to the dispute.

What is the reason for the latest conflict between the two countries?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated over the past two-three months. In November, an army operation in the Israeli-occupied territories killed some Palestinian civilians. A month ago, an Israeli citizen was killed and 15 others injured in twin explosions at a bus station in Jerusalem.

Israel blamed Palestine for the blast and launched a major military operation in the West Bank. Missiles were fired into Israel from Palestine. In the face of increasing violence, the United Nations has been forced to intervene through resolutions.

What is India’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict?

In 1974, India gave official recognition to Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization. Not only this, the two countries also have lawyers in each other’s capitals. India has always voted in favour of Palestine against Israel’s aggressive policies in the United Nations. But the relations between India and Israel have improved in the last few years.

The year 1992 marked the beginning of India-Israel relations. Israel is an exporter of arms and agricultural equipment and services to India. India has implemented a policy of maintaining an equal distance with both countries. Whenever an Indian leader went to Tel Aviv (the capital of Israel), he also went to Ramallah (the capital of Palestine).

In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a detour to Palestine and went to Israel and this tradition was broken. Although India still has ‘verbal’ support for Palestine, in action, a picture has emerged that Israel has become closer.

A result of changing politics in both countries?

In India, there was a change of power in 2014 and BJP came to power. The love of Israel is not hidden from those who share the ideology of the BJP. As both countries are victims of Islamic terrorism, the language of fighting common enemies together is often spoken.

Now Israel also has the most religious-right nationalist government ever. Therefore, while there is a fear that there will be more bloody activities in Palestine in the future, the possibility of strengthening India-Israel relations has also strengthened.

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