By Haider Abbas
There was no Israel before 1948, until the imperial British carved it out of Muslim Palestine, a part of Ottoman Empire, and today after around more than seven decades, Israel is a super-power in the whole of Middle-East owing to an unstinted support by US. India had a hush-hush relationship with Israel before 1992, the year when Babri Masjid was demolished, and Israel embassy has since then been running in New Delhi. In 2017, India’s PM Narendra Modi became the first PM of India to visit Israel. Israel shares an ideological unanimity which binds it to India. Israel had helped India way back in 1962 when India was at war with China.
Israel has eaten almost the whole of Palestine, through its most brute and Nazi style of governance, it pounds its air-force on Syria etc, all due to the courtesies of US and is involved in the worst ever human rights abuses of Palestinians, which happen ‘day in and day out’ with only a typical lip-service of condemnation by the world nations. There are routine demolitions of Palestinian houses, even schools, by Israel bulldozers, something emulated well in India too. The Arab nations are also opening-up with the idea to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel, since officially UAE did it in 2020, and such events now no more throw any surprise.
There is a war raring to go between Iran and Israel with US support, and in that case, obviously India will lean for Israel, as Israel is the biggest exporter of arms and weaponry to India as India does not have any such stakes with Iran. India, has also stopped even buying gas from Iran, since 2019, when US had slapped sanctions on Iran. There have been fresh sanctions on Iran, since Iran has supported Russia is the war against Ukraine. India has hugely got benefitted by the Russia-Ukraine war as Russia supplied oil to India at heavily subsidized rates, with some noises from US, which did not matter. But, internally there has been no respite in oil-prizes for the entire nation.
How India has over the years chalked a strategy to de-hyphenate Palestine from Israel came through the latest example as India engaged in a typical lip-service yet again. India extended support to Palestine people on November 30, reported The Indian Express 1. PM Narendra Modi, on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the people of Palestine declared, “We have always supported the Palestinian people in their pursuit of economic and social development with dignity and self-reliance.”’ Very well said and done.
India has long bid adieu to Non Align Movement and therefore Palestine issue is also a passé. There is a rise in rightist parties rule in India, where a reference towards Israel killing Palestinians is not done even for namesake. There has been no panel/discussion, follow-up articles on Israel killing more than 200 innocent Palestinians in this year 2022, no wonder Palestine is a killing field for the Israel. It became all the more ironical when Israel film director Nadav Lapid, called the Indian film, The Kashmir Files, based on Kashmiri Pandits exodus, to be an ‘inappropriate, propaganda and a vulgar film’, on November 29, therefore, to imagine even a news item on the number of Palestinians killed every year in India is now to be only a wishful thinking. What matters here is to mention the UN Declaration of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29, and India is also a signatory to it.
The Indian position on Palestine stems from the prime consideration of Pakistan, which was formed in the name of Islam in 1947, and Palestine issue was ‘very-close’ to the Arab States, hence, to placate Arab States, India took to a pro-Palestine stand, but slowly the Indian position has come out to be totally in consonance with Israel, more particularly when the Arab States are salivating to embrace Israel too. It is now anyone guess that soon Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will follow the suit, and Pakistan may also fall in line, with the exception of only Iran, on which clouds of war are hovering, from the side of Israel with total support of US. What is also more than ironic, is that PM Modi visited Israel in 2017, and the next year, he was accorded by the highest civilian award from Palestine. Its ‘Grand Collar of the State of Palestine award’.
For India now, it is a clear and crystal policy that India is not to amalgamate the Palestine-Israel issue but instead see to it as ‘separately’, which takes its cue from US, which had been with Pakistan for five decades, but after the year 2000, when Soviet Union was broken, it took to a pro-India stand, but India does have a stumbling block which is Russia, as Russia was with India and India despite its reliance on heavily subsidized Russian oil, after the Russia-Ukraine war, is with a pro-US stand, for considerations over China, which obviously puts India into ‘challenging’ position vis-à-vis Russia. Russia and Israel relations have been recently strained, as Israel with US support, have been very active with a pro-Ukraine stand, and have been supplying ‘technical and surveillance’ support to it against Russia.
India is silent but Russia has been quite piqued by it. Russian Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy, according to Almayadeen.Net 2 on November 28, has ‘accused “Israel” of escalation in Palestine’s West Bank noting that the increased aggressions against the West Bank resulted in the death of 130 Palestinians. At this rate, Polyanski said, during a UN Security Council, 2022 has been the “bloodiest” in nearly two decades noting that “according to information received, the use of force by “Israel” in the West Bank – already 130 people have been killed this year which makes it the bloodiest year since 2005.”’
Israel has been very aggressively engaged into highlighting the nuclear ambitions of Iran via the aid from Russia and Iran has been instrumental into supplying its drones to Russia against Ukraine, as Israel newspapers are agog with reports of Iranian nuclear deal with US to be nearing for ‘zero’ out of Russian-Iran bonhomie. The Israel newspaper Haaretz 3 on November 28 deliberated that, ‘the growing closeness between Iran and Russia dramatically undermines the likelihood of a deal being signed with Tehran – and potentially strengthens the Islamic Republic’s offensive capabilities. Israel is increasingly concerned that Iran will gain knowhow and experience from its cooperation with Russia in the war on Ukraine that will improve its abilities to attack targets in the Middle East.’ The purported Iran-US nuclear deal, with US President Joseph Biden, which was annulled by US outgoing President Donald Trump, is to be no more on the platter.
The coming days of this Russian hard stand against Israel will have a telling influence on India. Israel has its own consideration, which reflected from its ambassador Naor Gilon in New Delhi, debunking the Israel filmmaker remarks on The Kashmir Files, as obviously for Israel India is its largest buyer of arms, hence, Israel just does not care ‘so much’ for any Indian ‘callings for Palestine’, which was echoed officially by Israel Consul General Tammy Ben-Haim in Bangalore on May 25, reported The Hindu 4 that ‘Palestine issue doesn’t diminish India-Israel relations’. Ties between the two countries improving in agriculture, defence and cybersecurity.’ Russia is still India’s biggest arms supplier and it will be worth watching how India will navigate its policy with Russia, particularly when Russia is bitterly against Israel.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on international politics.