India’s Palestine policy evolving

#GS2 International relations

News info:

  • At the United Nations Security Council on Sunday, India, a non-permanent member, reaffirmed its support for Palestine, but stopped in need of making any direct regard to the status of Jerusalem or the longer term Israel-Palestine borders. Wrapping up his over-4-minute-long speech at the safety Council, T.S. Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said: “In conclusion, India reiterates its strong support for the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-state solution.”
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday tweeted the national flags of 25 countries, from the us to Albania, that he said were “resolutely standing with Israel and supporting our right to self defence”. Indian flag wasn't among them. Ambassador Tirumurti’s statement made two things clear. One, he said the “violence began in East Jerusalem every week back”, pertaining to the clashes within the Al-Aqsa compound and East Jerusalem’s neighbourhood. this suggests , India doesn’t see Hamas’s rocket-launching on May 10, which followed Israeli forces storming Al-Aqsa Mosque within the morning, because the trigger of the conflict.
  • Second, India has expressed “our deep concern over the violence in Jerusalem, especially on Haram esh-Sharif/Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramzan and about the possible eviction process in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.” Dozens of Arab families within the occupied East Jerusalem face eviction by the Israelis, which was one among the triggers of Arab protests within the last week of Ramzan.
  • India has also urged each side to “refrain from attempts to unilaterally change the prevailing established order , including in East Jerusalem and its neighborhood.” Here, it's Israel which is trying to unilaterally change the established order by moving to evict the Palestinian families, and deploying troops to the Al-Aqsa compound. India involved “the historically established order at the holy places of Jerusalem, including Haram esh-Sharif/Temple Mount must be respected”. So, without mentioning any country, India has, in effect, involved the eviction process to be stopped and standing quo ante to be restored at the Al Aqsa compound.

Evolving position

  • While refusing to toe the Israeli line on the conflict, India’s comments also point to its evolving position on the larger Israel-Palestine issue. “It’s a really carefully drafted statement. for instance, it’s involved the established order concerning East Jerusalem. But the crucial point that’s missing is that East Jerusalem should be the capital [of a future Palestinian state]. Earlier, this wont to be the mantra from India regarding the two-state solution. This portion is now taken out. Therefore, we are simply giving hypocrisy to the two-state solution without mentioning that East Jerusalem is that the core a part of that two-state solution,” said Talmiz Ahmad, a former diplomat who was India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and therefore the U.A.E.
  • Until 2017, India’s position was that it supported “the Palestinian cause and involved a negotiated solution leading to a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side asleep with Israel”. Then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated this position in November 2013. So did then President Pranab Mukherjee, in October 2015.
  • India dropped the references to East Jerusalem and therefore the borders in 2017 when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said some time past , “[W]e hope to ascertain the realisation of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, coexisting peacefully with Israel. I even have reaffirmed our position on this to President Abbas during our conversation today.”
  • In 2018, when Mr. Modi visited Ramallah, he reaffirmed an equivalent position, with no direct regard to the borders or Jerusalem. Ambassador Tirumurti stated this line while calling for a “just” solution, without giving specifics on what that solution should be.
  • P.R. Kumaraswamy, professor of international studies at Nehru University, Delhi, said it's “the sensible way of claiming what's acceptable to both parties”.
  • “It [the statement] is vague enough while at an equivalent time firmly putting the two-state solution on the table. That’s what the purpose is — whether there's regard to Jerusalem, whether it's [the] 1967 [border], these are all minor issues. the important issue is this: a two-state solution, coexisting side by side. What are the contours of the boundaries are going to be discussed, settled and recognized by the parties,” he said.

Two narratives

  • Prof. Kumaraswamy, however, added that there are a few important nuances in India’s statement. “First, the references to Haram esh-Sharif come twice. And it says, Haram esh-Sharif/Temple Mount. this is often often a really subtle way of claiming that this is not a Palestinian narrative. 
  • The Palestinian narrative is that it's Haram esh-Sherif—that means exclusive Islamic control and ownership. By saying Temple Mount along side Sharam esh-Sherif, it says... the important issue is it's Jewish also as Islamic. Second, you openly condemn the rockets, but no references to Israeli reaction.”
  • Ambassador Ahmad also noted the various approaches India took to the rocket launching and Israeli strikes.
  • “There may be a specific condemnation on the rocket fire from Gaza, but an identical condemnation isn't specifically directed at the Israeli side. And then, there's this loose talk on casualties, but fails to say the disproportionate use of force by Israel. i feel there's tons of symbolism here.”

Source: The Hindu

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