The Middle East is facing increasing tensions, with US President Joe Biden visiting Israel to assess Israeli plans. The humanitarian toll and long-term costs of the Israeli ground offensive are growing, with concerns about hostages and aid to Gaza. Iran has warned of pre-emptive action and warned of “pre-emptive action.”
The world is divided on the issue, with geopolitical fault lines solidifying and manifesting within nations. In the West, countries are struggling to contain domestic schisms and facing terror incidents. Universities in the West have emerged as new battlegrounds as competing narratives contend with each other.
India’s growing stakes in the Middle East have led to burgeoning ties with key stakeholders, resulting in New Delhi gaining a distinct clout in the region. Modi’s foreign policy achievements, such as building strong ties with Arab states, have made India’s Arab partners recognize the need to build a relationship with India that can respond to the challenges of the 21st century, rather than just being an extension of their religious heritage.
India’s Prime Minister Modi’s response to the attacks on Israel has been met with mixed reactions, with some critics arguing that it was a one-sided response and others seeing it as a significant shift in India’s Middle East policy. However, Modi’s response was not one-sided, but rather an expression of support for a friend that has always been there for India.
The Ministry of External Affairs stated that New Delhi views the Hamas strikes on Israeli cities as “terror attacks,” while reaffirming India’s long-standing position and advocating negotiations for a “sovereign, independent and viable” state of Palestine living side-by-side at peace with Israel.
India has maintained this position despite changing regional dynamics. Modi was the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel and the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2018, making this move the first of its kind. The Congress Party’s initial statement did not mention the terror attacks by Hamas, leading to a perception of a partisan divide in India. Despite Congress changing its position and denouncing Hamas, domestic polarization in India has become the primary prism for understanding the Indian stand on the crisis.
India’s approach towards the Middle East is influenced by the Arab world’s transformational changes and New Delhi’s critical role. The Hamas attacks aim to dismantle the region’s nascent shift, potentially changing regional politics.
New Delhi was one of the first to recognize this shift and evolve its foreign policy, moving beyond religion to define its engagement with regional stakeholders. India, a long-standing victim of terrorism, has often stood alone in challenging and questioning the world’s double standards on terrorism.
As tensions rise in the Middle East, Indian diplomacy will be under pressure. However, New Delhi’s desire to play a constructive and pegmatite role in the region aligns with evolving strategic realities, addressing the persistent challenge of double standards in the region.