July 26, 2021
The CBS Post

THE VOICE OF CBS

ISRAEL vs. PALESTINE: Uneasy Neighbours and India

In the last 100 years, the world has witnessed numerous disputes and wars between rival nations, India and Pakistan, the USA and the USSR, North and South Korea, Russia and Ukraine, and many more. But the one that stands out is the classic rivalry between Israel and Palestine. After 70+ years, 15+ wars, numerous riots and terrorist attacks, there is still no love lost between the two, and the recent HAMAS-Israel conflict was just a reminder of that.

The uneasy neighbours have had a significant impact on global politics, where the US along with its allies has stayed in Israel’s corner since its inception, the Arab world along with Russia and China consider Israel as an illegal entity on Palestinian land. This anti-Israel feeling led to the creation of extremist organisations like HAMAS, which vowed to invade Israeli occupation and transform the country into an islamic state. They successfully established their control in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and are now a contender for being the Palestinian representative on global stages. Its military wing has had a history of nasty conflicts with Israeli forces (just like the one we witnessed recently, which happened because of religious clashes and the prevalent hatred) resulting in innumerable fatalities and gigantic economic losses in the last 3 decades. As a result, it is considered a terrorist organisation by the US and allied nations. However, HAMAS is a big player in Palestinian politics and represents a considerable population. But for countries like India, which support the ‘two-nation policy’, the militant organisation is far from being an ally, because of their aim to annihilate Israeli existence.  

In all this upheaval, India, following its 2-nation policy, remained neutral and requested both sides to stop the violence. Considering the recently flourishing Indo-Israel relations and India’s increasing affection towards the USA, the Indian stance has been widely questioned. The reason being the ignorance of Indo-Palestine relations, which remained cordial since the formation of the West Asian nation. Historically, Former Indian PMs Jawahar Lal Nehru, Morarji Desai, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and others have supported Palestine over its rival. In 2018, Incumbent PM Mr. Modi threw new life to the bilateral relations by being the first Indian PM to visit Palestine and be honoured by their highest civilian order. However, he simultaneously ensured utmost cordiality with Israel, as he is also the first prime minister to visit Israel and after the commencement of his reign, India started to abstain from voting against Israel in the UN, their trades boomed significantly and Israel helped India at crucial times.

The ‘equilibrium’ India is trying to maintain is a fabulous way to evade many international problems by remaining neutral, but it can also be problematic in case of Indian needs (wars, international disputes, etc.) and might result in a change of stance of any of these two nations. 

But the question that now arises is that if there is any scope of change in India’s stance in the coming decade because of western influence to support Israel? Moreover, is the recent shift of India from a Pro-Palestine stance to a two-state theory (parallel existence of both) along with blooming Indo-Israel relations going to negatively impact the relations with Palestine?

The answer to these questions is not as easy as it seems because it revolves around many factors like – Religion, History, Trade, etc. However, if we try to magnify the most significant aspects i.e. Trade and religion, both are equally important for India. Palestine is India’s traditional ally with whom it shares historical bonds and religious similarities. Israel, on the other hand, is a strategic partner for the defence and diplomatic needs of the 21st century. Therefore, it is in no way possible for India to forego any of the two. 

These two nations are a major source of military, pharmaceutical, and industrial needs, on a global stage, sweet relations with both ensure a comfortable position for India. Therefore, preferring Israel over Palestine or vice-versa makes no sense in the present situation. The neutral stance is not India’s helplessness but a strategy to strive in International politics.

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