Palestinian PM calls for Indian support

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    • Prime Minister of Palestine Mohammad Shtayyeh has said that, 
      • India can play a stabilising role in West Asia by maintaining cooperation with all related parties.

    Israel- Palestine conflict

    • It is an age-old tussle over identity and land starting with Jerusalem.
      • It has been more than 100 years that Jews and Arabs are fighting over a piece of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
    • Zionist Movement
      • In 1897, Jews started the movement to escape persecution and establish their own state in their ancestral homeland, Israel. 
      • The World Zionist Organisation was created to advocate for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
      • A large number of Jews started flowing into Palestine and they bought land and started settling down there.
    • Sykes-Picot Agreement
      • By 1916, Palestine came under British control after the Sykes-Picot Agreement 
      • It was a secret agreement between Great Britain and France. 
      • This led to the division of the old Ottoman Turkish Empire.
    • Balfour Declaration
      • The British foreign secretary James Balfour agreed to the establishment of a Jewish homeland.
    • Nazis gained power in Germany
      • In 1930’s , the Jews influx to Palestine increased with thousands of them resettled from Europe to Palestine. 
      • Arabs saw this as a threat to their homeland and their conflict reached its peak as the British Government remained as a mute spectator.
      • Almost 6 million Jews lost their lives in the Holocaust which ignited a demand of separate Jewish state.
      • Jews claimed Palestine to be their natural home while the Arabs too did not leave the land and claimed it.
    • Two State Solution
      • In 1947, the British Government went to the United Nations to solve the dispute and decide upon the future of Palestine 
      • The UN voted to split the land into two countries. Jewish people accepted the agreement and declared the independence of Israel.
    • First Arab Israel war of 1948 
      • Arabs saw the creation of Israel as a part of a conspiracy to move them out of their land. 
      • Consequently, in 1948, the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria declared war on Israel.
      • Israel emerged victoriously and captured the western half of the city, and Jordan took the eastern part which Israel later captured and annexed.
        • Since then, Israel has expanded settlements in East Jerusalem.
    • Creation of PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) in 1964
      • Large number of Palestinians moved out of Israel and settled in refugee camps near Israel’s border. 
      • It was the beginning of the Palestine refugee crisis which ultimately led to the creation of a terrorist organization PLO.
      • The Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem the capital of their yet to be formed state.
    • Six-Day War 1967
      • Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and captured
        • Golan Heights from Syria.
        • West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan.
        • Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt. 
    • Yom Kippur War 1973
      • Under the UN Charter, there can be no territorial gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defence.
      • In the light of Israel’s reluctance to return the captured territories, another Arab-Israeli war erupted in 1973 in which Israel suffered.
      • In 1979, as per Israel-Egypt peace treaty, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.
      • Egypt became the first Arab nation to officially recognize Israel as a state.
    • Recent attacks
      • Israeli armed forces have recently attacked the Al-Aqsa Mosque ahead of a march by Zionist nationalists.
        • The Al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest shrine for Islam after Mecca and Medina.
      • Also, earlier in 2021, four Palestinian families were evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in favor of Jewish settlers.
        • The issue remains unresolved and potentially inflammable.
    • The current outbreak of violence is the most severe involving the rocket-firing by the Palestinians and the air-strikes conducted by Israelis in retaliation.

    India-Palestine Relations

    • Historic Ties:
      • India had a historic tradition of supporting the rights of the Palestinian people.
      • It is also an integral part of the nation’s foreign policy.
    • Supporting the Palestinian:
      • India support the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.
      • In 1974, India became the first Non-Arab State to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
    • India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by independent views and interests, and not determined by any third country.

    Why is India’s support significant?

    • India’s growing Profile
      • India is serving as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2021-22 
      • India was re-elected to the Human Rights Council for the 2022-24.
    • Palestine wants support in multilateral forums.
      • Also, in recent years, India has broken the tradition of supporting Palestine at the U.N.
      • In 2019, India voted in favour of Israel at the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) 
        • to deny observer status to a Palestinian organisation named Shahed.
      • India abstained during the voting on a resolution calling for investigation into Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip at the Human Rights Council.
    • Political Stability
      • India’s role in multilateral organisations required strenuous efforts in cooperation with all related parties 
        • to achieve security and stability in the MiddleEastand West Asia 
    • Financial Support
      • Government of India contributed US$ 2 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

    India’s role in Middle East

    • After Abraham Accord (Israel–UAE normalization agreement)
      • Will help India to move from bilateral relations towards an integrated regional policy.
      • Regional coalitions are bound to widen Delhi’s reach and deepen its impact.
    • India bridging the Arab-Israeli 
      • Often the Arab nations and Israel are divided over Palestine.
      • India’s new foreign policy of simultaneous cooperation with Israel and the Arab world 
    • New QUAD
      • A new minilateral with the US, UAE and Israel the “new Quad” is under discussion for the Middle East.
    • Beneficial for all 
      • India’s scale , Israeli innovation and Emirati capital has a potential to produce immense benefits.
      • In addition to it the American strategic support would be a powerful dynamic unfolding in the region.

    India’s Look West Policy

    • Look West Policy is a strategy to deal with the West Asian nations.
    • Adopted by the Indian government in 2005 and has been intensified in the recent past.
    • Look West Policy focus
      • The Arab Gulf countries
      • Israel
      • Iran
    • India’s Diplomacy 
      • India, through what can be viewed as imaginative diplomacy, has attained a unique position in the world.
      • It has good and growing relations with all major nearby regional powers – Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, Egypt and Israel.
    • India’s Success
      • The success of this policy was seen when the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has not taken a strong stance against India 
        • on the issue related to the abrogation of article 370 and 35A and 
        • UAE presented the Order of Zayed to PM Modi immediately after to boost the ties between the two nations.

    Constraints with Look West Policy

    • Peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine
      • Are not seeing any progress and are challenged by the US’ increasing inclination towards Israel.
    • India’s engagement with Iran
      • Over the Chabahar port is unlikely to eliminate the Pakistan or China option.
      • One reason is the more modest scale of India’s efforts in Central Asia and West Asia, especially compared to China’s BRI.
    • US Iran tensions
      • US’ unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran has derailed India’s strategy 
      • Intensification of US-Iran tensions and India’s growing inclinations with the US.

    Conclusion

    • Strategic autonomy
      • India must take all possible steps to maintain its current position in the Middle East to have the flexibility and strategic autonomy 
      • while also prioritizing the national interests of the country.
    • Not Picking Sides
      • India’s decisions are based on a mature understanding and evaluation of the Israel- Palestine issues 
      • India refused to pick a side and called for de-escalation and dialogue.
    • Diplomatic Depth
      • Presently, West Asia has become multipolar with powers diffused among various regional and extra-regional actors.
      • Within this mix, India has pursued an approach that balances against different parties and their rivalries.
    • Legitimacy resolutions
      • India may render support that is parallel and complementary with the political support of the Palestinian cause 
      • In a manner that guarantees the implementation of international legitimacy resolutions.

    Source: TH