Since May 10, Palestinian terror organisation Hamas, backed by Iran and pariah Gulf states has fired over 3,150 rockets into Israeli territory, including capital Tel Aviv, targeting innocent civilians. This, after a legal dispute in Israel’s Al-Jarrah colony, was blown out of proportion by Islamists into some sort of an ‘ethnic cleansing’. Almost immediately, Hamas began an offensive against Israel, and the Jewish nation continues to respond with all its might. Any nation, whose civilians are attacked by terrorists with rockets and projectiles for no fault of theirs would do the same. India too, if push came to shove, would do the same.
However, India’s stand on the current conflict between Israel and Hamas has been appalling, to say the least. Many are arguing that foreign policy and diplomatic statements cannot be guided by emotions prevalent within the country, which by the way, are very pro-Israel. However, the fact is that India’s Israel-Palestine policy is redundant. It is outdated and out of touch with reality. Unfortunately, India has not been able to give up on the Nehruvian outlook of the Israel-Palestine conflict, which simply put, was overwhelmingly supportive of the ‘Palestinian cause’.
On Sunday, India’s UN Permanent Representative issued a statement regarding the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. This statement, importantly, was issued by India at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) convened to discuss the clashes between Israel and Hamas terrorists. The pusillanimous statement by India said, “The indiscriminate rocket firings from Gaza targeting the civilian population in Israel, which we condemn, and the retaliatory strikes into Gaza, have caused immense suffering and resulted in deaths, including women and children.”
But here’s the most appalling part! India did not stop there. In fact, it went on to support a “two-state solution” for Israel and Palestine to resolve their dispute. India’s representative during the UNSC meet said, “In conclusion, I reiterate India’s strong support to the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-state solution.”
These words of absolute surrender to the ‘Palestinian cause’ are sickeningly reminiscent of the Congress-era. The Congress governments, for petty political gains, chose to support Palestine as that won them the votes of India’s Muslims. To date, Palestine remains an emotive issue for Indian Muslims. However, the Congress party is not in power in New Delhi anymore. Rather, the BJP is. The one party which was expected to reverse India’s Palestine policy and realign it with changing geopolitical dynamics, is in fact, continuing with it.
As it turns out, Palestine is not half as committed to the much-touted “two-state solution” as India seems to be. It is not surprising, therefore, that Palestine, or what remains of it, has rejected proposals for ending the conflict via such a ‘solution’ a whopping five times! Yet, India stands committed to the “two-state solution”.
The Indian government must rethink and recalibrate its stand Israel-Palestine conflict immediately, else, with the slow pace of this policy transition we could end up alienating one of our most trusted friends. PM Modi was the first Indian Prime Minister to set foot in Israel and this was seen as a move to improve ties with our ‘natural ally’, but the transition towards a pro-Israel policy has been astoundingly slow and the diplomatic language used is outrageously reminiscent of the UPA era policy and given the geopolitical dynamics today, this should not have been the case.
Israel has been more than a strategic partner and friend for India. It has been a nation, which has always risen to the occasion when India faced a crisis. It never shied away from supporting India and backing us. Back in 1999, during the Kargil War, Israel had provided laser-guided missiles for the Mirage 2000H fighters of the Indian Air Force (IAF). India was able to win the air war due to Israeli help and provide crucial air support to its ground troops.
Last year, as tensions between India and China, surged, Israel supplied India with in-service air defence systems. On all occasions when India has needed help and support, Israel has always stood by us. Therefore, when India failed to voice its support for Israel publicly in face of the Jewish nation facing indiscriminate offensives from Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu too did not have any reason to include India among the 25 nations he thanked on Twitter for their support.
While Arab nations have begun seeing sense and started abandoning the “Free Palestine” bandwagon, why India cannot do the same remains incomprehensible. The primary argument of those who defend the Indian government’s stand on Palestine is that New Delhi cannot afford to antagonise the Arab world. Well, the Arab world has itself watered down its support to the ‘Palestinian cause’ and many Gulf nations have even signed peace accords with Israel. Surely, now would be the time for India to radically rethink its policy on the matter as well.
India and Israel both suffer from the menace of cross-border terrorism, Islamism and also have a rather hostile neighbourhood. The need of the hour is for India is to stand by its Jewish brothers and sisters in face of them being viciously attacked by radical Islamists.