ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India and Israel: An Embrace in Arms

Rethinking Indo-Israeli relations involves rejection of the one-dimensional conception of security.

The Narendra Modi-led Indian government refused to allow Parliament to pass a resolution condemning Israel for its military attack on Gaza that began on 7 July and which has left “literally no safe place for civilians” (according to the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). It was nevertheless left with little choice but to allow a debate on the Israeli military operation in the Rajya Sabha. Subsequently, the government instructed its representative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to vote in favour of a resolution requested by Palestine (which has UN observer status) that condemned the attacks on civilians by both sides – the Israeli military and Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.

Given India’s close ties with Israel since 1992, with the latter now New Delhi’s second largest armaments supplier, and the deep links between the two countries’ military and intelligence apparatuses in the fight against “Islamic terrorism”, New Delhi’s policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds is certainly not new. However, if one goes back further in time, to Nehruvian times, when our collective memory of colonialism was still strong, India did acknowledge the gross violation of the rights of the Palestinians who were brutally dispossessed and expelled to facilitate the creation of Israel. Indeed, in 1975, India even voted in favour of a UN resolution equating Zionism with racism, and later, in 1988, invited the Palestine Liberation Organisation to open a Palestinian embassy in New Delhi. But upon the victory of the United States in the protracted cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1992 the Indian government established full diplomatic relations with Israel. Earlier, in 1991, India voted for the repudiation of the UN resolution that equated Zionism with racism which it had supported in the mid-1970s. What followed was literally a sea change in Indo-Israeli ties, so much so that Gen Y will today be surprised to know that once upon a time Indian passports used to be invalid for travel to Israel.

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