Israel-Palestine Relations

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  • Vipin asked: When people in Gaza don't recognise the Palestinian National Authority, how can there be a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine question?

    Md. Muddassir Quamar replies: It would be incorrect to assume that the ‘people in Gaza’ do not recognise the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). In fact, between 1994 and 2006, the Gaza Strip, along with parts of the West Bank, had remained under the PNA administration in accordance with the Oslo Accords. The problem is between Hamas and Fatah, the two dominant factions of the Palestinian national movement.

    Border is the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Rather than frittering away its limited leverage on issues such as refugees, settlements or borders, the international community should focus on borders as a means of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by posing a simple question to Israel: where do you begin, and where do you end?

    March 05, 2019

    Jordan is the Pivot to Modi’s approach to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    An unstable Jordan will undermine India’s newly found nuanced and balanced approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and push it back to the insipid, ineffective and routine of yester years.

    June 15, 2018

    Israel–Gaza Crisis: Understanding the War Crimes Debate

    The long conflict between Israel and Palestine took a turn for the worse after the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in June 2014.

    March 2015

    Israel-Palestine Talks: Enablers and Prospects

    Prospects of a solution will hinge on the ability of the two sides to moderate their maximalist positions and the ability of the Obama administration to play the role of an ‘honest broker’.

    August 26, 2013

    Vipin asked: When people in Gaza don't recognise the Palestinian national authority, how can there be a two state solution to Israel Palestine question?

    S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: It is important to note that the Hamas which is in power in Gaza does not recognise the PNA, which consists of the Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah. It can safely be assumed that Fatah also has significant cadres inside Gaza. After Hamas secured a majority in the January 2006 elections, it was not recognised by Israel given that the Hamas’ Charter calls for the destruction of Israel among other issues of contention between the two sides.

    Violence between Hamas and Fatah which erupted in July 2007 led to the loss of over 600 lives. Since then, despite efforts at mediation by Egypt, Jordan, and the Arab League, both factions have not come to a common understanding on the future contours of their movement against Israel. When Jordan hosted peace talks between Israel and the PNA in January 2012, Hamas termed them as a ‘farce’ and ‘a waste of time’. It is pertinent to note that this was the first direct contact between the two parties since September 2010 when they met in Washington.

    Israel has played up the differences between Hamas and Fatah to highlight the fact that the core problem in realising the two-state solution is the lack of an effective negotiating partner on the other side who can deliver on the possible terms of a future agreement while ensuring Israeli security. The Fatah, of course, does not subscribe to this view and holds Israeli policies on issues like the settlements among others as the major stumbling block.

    Ganesh Pote asked: What is India's stand on the Palestine question? How does India balance its support for Palestine with good relations with Israel simultaneously?

    S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: India supports the establishment of a Palestinian state as soon as possible with East Jerusalem as its capital. India also supports the Arab Peace Plan, elements of which calls for the withdrawal of Israel to pre-1967 borders as well as the recognition of Israel by the Arab countries.

    India extends political, diplomatic and economic support to the Palestinians. India has hosted the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas four times since 2005 - most recently in September 2012 - in contrast to the lack of such high-level political contacts with the Israelis. India has supported the Palestinian bid for membership of the UN, and has given more than $50 million as aid to the Palestinian National Authority since 2005.

    At the same time, however, India enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Israel, spanning the defence sector, economic cooperation and close interactions in such fields as agriculture, water harvesting among others as well as strong tourist links. Examples of such cooperation include the Centres of Excellence in agriculture which have been opened in Haryana and other such centres are likely to come up in different states.

    For further reading, please refer to the article ‘The Delicate Balance: Israel and India's Foreign Policy Practice’, Strategic Analysis, 36 (1), January 2012, pp. 128-144.

    Sanket Telang asked: What role can India play in Israel-Palestine conflict? Shouldn't India fully Support Israel as both of us are victims of Terrorism?

    V Krishappa replies: Despite India 's considerable footprint in global affairs, its willingness and ability to play a direct role in the Israeli-Palestine conflict is limited. India 's geo-strategic and political interests require that it carefully balance its growing economic and strategic relations with Israel with that of other actors in the region including the Palestinian Authority. Besides, the ability of external actors to foster peace has been severely tested in the past two decades. The 'religion of peace process', seductive as it is, has yielded no tangible results despite the best efforts of President Clinton and now Obama.

    Given limited resources and lack of leverages with major stake holders it is advisable that India limits its current policy of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people and political support in international institutions for the promotion of a two-state solution while continuing to improve strategic and economic relations with Israel. India should leverage its growing influence in the world to counsel Israel to exercise restraint and move towards a two-state solution. It should continue to use it voice in the United Nations and work with major sates in the world towards that end without directly participating in the peace process.

    India is a victim of terrorism as is Israel, but there is an important difference. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands has been questioned by not only the Palestinian people but also by the Arab and Muslim world as well as the larger international community. Israel is quick to use excessive force and treat the Palestinian population with contempt. It has often shown utter disregard to human rights violations. India cannot and should not imitate Israeli counter-terrorism practice. India has an evolved and unique approach to the menace of terrorism. It is better served by sticking to its first principles - deliberate use of force, democratic co-option, operate within the bounds of law, and use time and patience as strategic tools. India has a long standing political position on the Palestinian question. Any dilution of India’s historical stand will be detrimental to its interests, larger aspirations and its self image as an inclusive democracy.

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