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Israel- Palestine conflict - India, US call for calm (13 May 2021)

Israel- Palestine conflict - India, US call for calm (13 May 2021)

Context:

  • India, the United States, and several other countries have called for calm and restraint amid escalating tensions and violence between ISRAEL and Palestinian militants.

Background:

  • In 1947, the UN voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city.

  • It was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab side and never implemented.

  • British rulers failed to establish peace between Muslims and Jews and lifted its control over the area and thus, the Jews declared the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

  • Palestinians objected but Jews did not back out which led to an armed conflict. The war led to over 700,000 Palestinians becoming refugees.

  • At the end of the war, Israel controlled around 50 percent more territory than originally envisioned in the UN partition plan.

  • Jordan then went on a war with Israel and seized control over a part of the land which was called the West Bank, and Egypt occupied Gaza.

  • Jerusalem was divided between Israel in the West, and Jordan in the East.

  • In the year 1967, war took place between Israel and Arab states. Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank, various areas of Syrian Golan Heights, Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.

  • Today, the West Bank appears to be controlled by the Palestinian Authority, although it is largely under Israeli occupation.

  • Gaza strip is controlled by Hamas, an Islamist fundamentalist party.

Summary of the Debate

What has led to the current violence?

  • It’s linked to the old age tussle over identity and land starting with Jerusalem.

  • East Jerusalem is a contested area and which Palestinian hope will become capital of their yet to be formed state.

  • There was eviction of Palestinians from one of the neighbourhood of Jerusalem and for that land to be given to Jewish settlers.

  • The street clashes along the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound which is the third holiest shrine for Islam in the world after Macca and Madina created the furor all over the region as far as Turkey and beyond, and radicals began to call for defending Al-Aqsa Mosque and then Hamas decided that this was time to link Gaza with Jerusalem.

  • It is the heaviest fighting between the two bitter enemies since 2014.

  • An emergency meeting of the UNSC has been conducted for drawing out an immediate plan of de-escalation and restoration of peace in the region.

  • India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador TS Tirumurti stressed the need to immediately resume direct peace talks and commitment to a two-state solution.

  • US President Joe Biden has also called for de-escalation of the deadly violence that has claimed dozens of lives. He however added that Israel has a right to defend itself if it is attacked by thousands of rockets.

  • Dozens of people have been killed in clashes and airstrikes, when the violence broke out, including a 30-year-old Indian woman in Israel who was killed in a rocket attack by Palestinian militants from Gaza.

Issues in Palestine:

  • There is a political paralysis within in Israel and Palestinian territories.

  • Palestinians have been divided between the Hamas and the Fateh and the two are moving on different tracks and that has basically defeated the Palestinian cause.

  • Mahmoud Abbas (President of the State of Palestine) keep saying that he will conduct election and he keeps on postponing, it’s more than 15 years now since, he has been President of Palestine authority in West Bank but he has not conducted an election.

  • Hamas also has a dictatorial hold and people are very unhappy because of the Israeli cease and the limitations.

  • So, Palestinians are very frustrated because their own internal leadership is not delivering anything for them.

Issues in Israel:

  • Israel had 4 elections in last 2 years and Netanyahu remains a Prime Minister but in a caretaker form and they are all highly divided, the Jewish also.

  • Within Israel, the most dangerous now is Arab Israel which is just 20 percent of the Israel population but they identify with the Palestinians, they are essentially of the same ethnic group.

Role of USA:

  • In the United Nations Security Council, the US has blocked any discussion on the issue by using its veto power even though 14 out of 15 members called for an urgent meeting on the issue.

  • USA is trying to retract from the region and China and Russia coming in in a big way there.

  • The USA is trying to shift its focus from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific to tackle China.

Mediation of Arab countries:

  • There are 3-4 countries that are working closely to bring it down, one is Qatar which has in the past also brought some kind of an agreement between Gaza and Israel.

  • The leadership in the countries has become far more pragmatic in the Arab world due to their own problem because they don’t have anymore that kind of freebies that they could provide to Palestinian that’s why they are going more closer to Israel.

  • But Iran and Turkey have become two true champions of Palestinian cause today compare to rest of them.

India’s stand on Israel- Palestine conflict:

  • India condemns violence in Israel, Gaza, called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

  • In context of Israel and Palestine, India now follows de-hyphenation policy. It means India’s relationship with Israel would stand on its own merits, independent and separate from India’s relationship with the Palestinians.

  • Currently, India supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

India-Israel Relations:

  • India’s support for Palestine has not deterred its growing relationship with Israel.

  • India’s recognised Israel in 1950.

  • Diplomatic relations between Israel and India were fully established in 1992.

  • Defence and agriculture have been the main pillars of bilateral engagement.

  • FDI from Israel into India was $73.7 million (2000-2013).

  • India imports critical defence technologies from Israel.

  • Israel was one of the rare countries to directly help India during the Kargil War.

India- Palestine Relations:

  • India has been consistently supportive of the Palestinian cause.

  • In 1975, India was the first Non-Arab State to recognise the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people and invited it to open an office in Delhi.

  • India was one of the first countries to recognise the state of Palestine in 1988.

  • In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the Palestine Authority in Gaza, which was later shifted to West Bank in 2003.

  • India voted in favour for accepting Palestine as a full member of UNESCO in 2011.

Conclusion:

  • The only way forward is peace talks between the two countries as suggested by India and further negotiations on the twostate solution proposed by the United Nations

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