Indo-Israel alliance: A threat to survival of Pakistan and Iran
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2016-01-18 15:41:13

Indo-Israel alliance: A threat to survival of Pakistan and Iran

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External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Tel Aviv on a two-day visit to Israel and Palestine, some three months after President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit — the first by an Indian head of state to the region. Swaraj was extended a red carpet welcome on her arrival at the Tel Aviv airport by Israeli officials. Swaraj’s official engagement begins on Sunday morning in Palestine where she will be meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and her counterpart Riyad al Malki in the West Bank town of Ramallah. She will also be offering floral tributes at the bust of father of nation Mahatma Gandhi in the Garden of Nations and lay wreath at the mausoleum of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The minister will also inaugurate the India-Palestine Digital Learning and Innovation Centre as part of capacity-building efforts undertaken by the Indian government in Palestine. After her engagements in Palestine on Sunday, Swaraj will be back in Israel in the afternoon to kick start her two-day visit during which she will hold discussions with the top Israeli leadership to review a whole range of areas of cooperation between the two countries. Within in a short period of a decade both the countries have gone closer to each other. There was no such coziness two decades ago, when India refused even to keep an embassy in Israel. But where protests and public denunciations of Israeli excesses were once routine, today many commentators see India’s traditional support for Palestinians as anachronistic and inimical to the national interest. India backed a call for a United Nations Human Rights Council investigation into Israel’s ongoing onslaught in Gaza last week (the United States was the only country to oppose the resolution). But that was a largely symbolic vote. At home, the newly elected government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blocked parliamentary votes to condemn Israeli actions. Critics of India’s traditional Israel policy dismiss it as a cynical bid to court India’s large Muslim vote, but many officials saw an echo of their own worldview in the struggle of a secular and multi-religious PLO against an Israeli state defined by religion. Some even saw that as an echo of India’s own confrontations with Pakistan. Both Israel and Pakistan were born after World War II with religious identity as their central organizing principle, as a result of partition policies adopted by the departing British colonial authorities. India’s foreign policy shift on Israel began with the international impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Non-alignment and anti-colonial solidarity seemed moth-eaten in a world of unrivaled American power and triumphant capitalism. India pivoted, aligning itself more closely with the United States. It also began to strengthen ties with Israel, with both countries exchanging ambassadors in 1992. India’s engagement with Israel has grown substantially in the last two decades on military, scientific, commercial and agricultural matters. The affinity has been less ideological than pragmatic, each side understanding the other’s needs. Israel remains uncomfortable about India’s close ties with Iran, just as India looks warily at Israel’s relationship with China. Neither side allows their bilateral relationship to be imperiled by India’s rhetorical condemnation of Israeli actions — dismissed by one Israeli journalist as India’s “periodic lip service to the Palestinian plight.” India already faces the nuclear threat posed by Pakistan, and Israel may soon confront the same threat from Iran. With the ongoing security threats posed by India’s nuclear-armed rival, Pakistan, the Kashmir conflict  and potential conflict with the other Asian heavyweight, China, India needs the kind of military edge that Israel can help it to obtain. Insofar as India provides an Asian counterweight to Chinese dominance, a powerful India bolstered by Israeli technological expertise is also in the interest of smaller Asian countries and the United States. Both the countries believe that that Hindus and Jews shared a history of oppression at the hands of Muslims, and that both deserved redress. Under Modi’s leadership, India looks set to build an even closer friendship with Israel, no matter what degree of devastation is unleashed in Gaza this summer.

 

pk.shafaqna.com

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