India’s Volte-Face In US Embassy Shift Row



Recent decision of US President unilateral decision to move its Embassy of Israel in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem made tremors in seven decades old impeccable support to Palestine. Independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who was strong believer of democracy, freedom and liberty and an international statesman also known to be as contemporary world leader in modern politics in twentieth century like him out rightly supported to Palestine territorial integrity. At the same time India also gave its strong support for Two State solution theory by respecting clear cut demarcations.

There was a paradigm shift in India’s foreign policy on Israel – Palestine conflict after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by Narendra Modi came into power. 70 years of India’s independent years no Prime Minister visited Israel as it has been reluctant to bind Two State theory. But current coalition government in power broke the previous foreign policy on Israel suddenly changed after Modi took charge of the government. The current position we can say India is not a strong supporter to Palestine as it is under process to build diplomatic tie with the state of Israel and expecting its collaboration in transferring technology and modern security tools and instruments to use in defence and country based extremism and terrorism.

Recent decision of US President to shift its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem makes India to put in a diplomatic fix. So far officially Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India (GoI) not disclosed its view on US’s move. India is completely mum on embassy move. India traditionally a great supporter of Arab Palestine against Israel acts. All previous Prime Ministers of India condemned Israel acts on many occasions. But current foreign ideology under Narendra Modi’s leadership totally changed.  He did not consider any past precedents to design India’s foreign policy on Palestine – Israel issue.

Is India is in A Strategic Silence or Pro Israel?

The United States totally singled in the UN Security Council meeting on recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and shifting its embassy. Other members and allies and partners of US such as UK and France also blasted on US decision in this emergency meeting. Nevertheless, India did not open its mouth on this issue even small member nations in UN totally condemned Donald Trump move. India has a reputation and track record of independent foreign policy. As it is completely silenced on US move on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital such fabric of India’s independent foreign policy is now under attacked. On many occasions of world conflicts India always acted strong neutrality. But in the case of Palestine conflict and great solidarity and empathy to people of Palestine it was never acted as mum or maintained neutrality. It was strongly supported Palestine territories and their territorial integrity of both the state of Palestine and Israel.

 Tough Challenges Ahead for India

Outright support to Israel by India through Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit and various agreements are a new move in India’s diplomatic strategy. But there are many tough challenges ahead for India on latest developments. As India has emerged as a key ally of United States and Israel naturally Arab world may questions India’s position on permanent solution to Israel – Palestine conflict. Is India believed in two state solution theory is not clear too. A diplomatic paralysis on Palestine issue is prevailed in Government of India. It’s totally unfortunate. After all, diplomacy means not only defence deals or business agreements. Diplomacy first priority is peace and prosperity of humans not the interests of states or nations.

Mahatma Gandhi: No to Israel

The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is a strong propagator of Mahatma Gandhi (known as Bapuji and Father of the Nation) ideology on many contemporary issues. Surprisingly he took a strong decision towards Israel aginst to will wish of Mahatma Gandhi. Without acceptance of the Arabs of Palestine there is no scope for creation of Israel was the Gandhi’s strong opinion. India nationalist icons like Gandhi and Nehru always against to partition of Palestine and creation of Israel. India even voted against the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) resolution on partition of Palestine on November 29 1947.  Nobel laureate and Physicist Albert Einstein appealed to India to vote in favour of formation of Israel state. But India out rightly rejected the appeal announced that it committed to Palestine territorial integrity. The main reason because India itself victim of partition row.

In the new economic and post globalization era India’s diplomatic approaches have been changing significantly. When PV Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister, India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Interestingly this was happened in consultation with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. Narasimha Rao was took him on board during his visit to New Delhi to establish diplomatic ties. It was a wise move actually with a balancing of sentiments of both the state of Palestine and Israel. India’s new foreign relations with Israel happened because of two reasons. They are; US mediated negations on conflict organized in Oslo (Norway) thereafter agreement signed in Washington DC. As a result Palestine Authority and Israel State formally recognized by the international community.

Many say, there was a huge US pressure on India to build diplomatic relations with Israel to give a political boost to Oslo Accord. Then Indian government convinced Palestine leader Arafat to develop relations with the state of Israel. At least India was tried to act in a balancing way.

Surprisingly Indian Government headed by Narendra Modi unilaterally changed India’s historic stand on Palestine without taking sentiments of Arab people to make Israel as India’s key ally. India is going against majority member nations of the United Nations. It’s not at all good sign at this juncture because India is trying to get permanent membership with Veto in Security Council. Majority of the nations openly strongly condemned US act but India not so far.

If India thinks US and Israel are key priority many nations since 20th century supported India unconditionally on many issues India currently facing. That was like a natural protection fabric of world arena. Even though Pakistan raised Kashmir issue many nations least bothered and they supported India only. As India’s close relations with Israel and silence on US move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital those India’s natural allies (including many Arab nations) may rethink to support India on Kashmir issue.

Dr Sriram Kannekanti is an international development expert based in Hyderabad Deccan. He works on Democratic Governance and Civil Society issues.


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