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Saturday, February 17, 2024

India fails to take a clear position on Israel’s “Annexation Plan”

While the whole world condemned and protested Israel's Annexation Plan, India that was once a great supporter of Palestinian cause failed to take a clear position. New Delhi advised instead that Israel need to negotiate with Palestinians, but ironically it is not willing to sit with Pakistan to negotiate on Jammu & Kashmir.

On 28 May Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, had declared his government will unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank of Palestine and the Palestinians living there will not be extended either Israeli citizenship or equal rights. Whole world -except the United States – has condemned this Annexation Plan but India has not been able to take any clear positon.

New Delhi – that was once leader of the Non-Aligned movement – and a great supporter of Palestinian cause has merely told Israel that it will firmly support a resolution that comes out of negotiation.

The parts to be occupied are referred to by Israeli extremists by their biblical names of Judea and Samaria, thereby attempting to align the present with the status quo of more than 2,000 years ago.

World unites to oppose Israeli Annexation Plans 

Most of the world has taken a clear position against Netanyahu’s Plan. The annexation envisioned will flagrantly breach international law and countless UN resolutions. It would be deserving of sanctions against Israel.

Haaretz, a liberal Israeli daily, reminded right-wingers: “Remember ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’.” It also warned “Netanyahu’s assault on the rule of law” may “trigger a multi-front war within weeks”. US president, Donald Trump, had promised support to Netanyahu’s Plan as early as April but in the last few days Washington has not been able to come up with the support Israel needed to move ahead. Consequently Annexation plan is stuck for now. Israeli sources quietly point out that it will be either “Delayed or Minimised”

Read more: Israeli annexation plans: occupied West Bank under threat

Over the last weeks of June, calls for a tougher stance by the European Union (EU) were  growing within the multinational body. Officials in Brussels threatened to terminate science research aid to Israel. In the past six years this has amounted to a tidy $1.1 billion.

Earlier, EU’s external affairs commissioner, Josep Borrell, urged Israel to “refrain from any unilateral decision”. France encouraged fellow members of the Union to consider threatening Israel with a tough response if it went ahead with annexation.

Heiko Maas, foreign minister of Germany, warned Israel that annexation of occupied Palestinian land would be a violation of international law. British foreign minister of state, James Cleverly, remarked: “Our long-standing position is that we do not support the annexation of parts of the West Bank.” Russia and China joined the chorus. Japan advocated a two-state solution.

India’s surprising silence on Israel’s annexation plans 

India had once been the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement; it used to support the Palestinian cause but now Narendra Modi government remained deafeningly silent. It seems to be oblivious to the need of balancing state interest with principles in foreign policy. On 10 June, Modi spoke to Netanyahu on the phone. This was the third time in as many months the two indulged in such conversation.

Modi congratulated his counterpart on his continuance in office, “expressed confidence that the India-Israel partnership would continue to flourish” under the latter’s “leadership and guidance”. Quite remarkably, Modi seems to have deferred to Netanyahu as the guru of the bilateral relationship!

Indeed, according to news agencies, Modi refrained from raising the issue of annexation. This is not a Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin or Shimon Perez New Delhi is dealing with. Condoning Netanyahu’s expansionist design even by default is embarrassing to India. Historically, the Hindu Right to its utter disgrace has unreservedly drawn inspiration first from Nazism, then from Zionism. In terms of political identification, this was quite a summersault. Hindutva’s representative, Modi, has now dragged the Indian state towards this dubious world view.

Read more: Palestinians rise up against illegal Israel annexation plan

India on Thursday reiterated that the final status issues should be resolved through direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: “Our position on this is very clear and I would like to reiterate that the final status issues should be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties.” Regarding Israel annexation, India believes that the negotiating table is the way to go to solve this contentious issue.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) statement came in the wake of the Israeli plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. “We urge the Parties to engage with each other and find an acceptable two-state solution for peaceful coexistence,” said the MEA in a statement.

India advises negotiations to Israel but doesn’t heed its own advice in Kashmir 

India has had no shortage of advice when it comes to Palestine; it has said that a viable solution can only come from negotiations between Israel and Palestine. However, India has been deafeningly silent on Pakistan’s repeated dialogue calls over its own quagmire in Kashmir. A piece in the Pakistani publication Daily Times by a retired Pakistani Air Force Officer attempts to explain.

“The question arises, why is India evading dialogue with Pakistan? The answer is manifold,” writes SM Hali.

“Firstly, India does not have a case on the core issue of Kashmir. Veteran Ambassador Yusuf Buch, former senior advisor to the United Nations Secretary General and a living encyclopaedia on Kashmir, in a meeting with Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai the Secretary General of the Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum on September 19 2018 — elucidated the issue in New York.

Writer adds: ” In response to a question regarding the legality of accession of Kashmir to India, Mr Buch expounded that the ostensible accession of Kashmir to India is a fiction entrenched in the Indian position. The fact that the act was performed by a feudal ruler who had fled his capital in the face of a popular revolt is well established in the official record of the dispute. If India were as certain of the legal strength of its claim as it professes to be, would it not agree to the whole question being examined by the World Court? A process lasting a few months would vindicate its position and bring it resounding victory. But India knows that an impartial investigation would be fatal to its claim. Hence the loud, indignant insistence on ‘sovereignty.’” says the author.

Read more: India’s foreign policy having trouble handling Kashmir & China

Hali adds: “India has been harping on about how the UN Resolutions on Kashmir are outdated. This is hogwash because UN Resolutions can never be outdated unless both parties approach the world body in unison to withdraw it. In this case there are three parties, Kashmiris, India and Pakistan, It is a matter of record that as soon as the dispute arose, an overarching promise was made by India to Kashmir in all available forums — in solemn public declaration, in submissions to the United Nations, in communications to Pakistan and even to other governments. Reneging by India on the promise does not make it archaic or outdated.”

Thus, it is underscored that while India may have all sorts of advice on the best way to resolve the Palestinian issue in the wake of Israel plans to annex West Bank, it’s claims can not be considered credible because it refuses to heed its own advice in Kashmir.

Israel’s plans are halted: Green light from Washington awaited? 

Meanwhile, a host of factors have forced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shelve plans for annexing around 30% of the occupied West Bank for now after he previously told settler leaders he intended to do so on July 1.

Israel’s annexation plan, unveiled in January, envisions bringing some 30 per cent of the territory under permanent Israeli control, while giving the Palestinians limited autonomy in the remaining land.

Read more: West Bank annexation and its ramifications for Israel

The plan has come under strong international criticism. The United Nations, the European Union and key Arab countries have all said Israel’s annexation would violate international law.

Experts believe the main reasons for the delay include the lack of a firm US commitment to back the plan, opposition from the country’s defense forces, and the Jewish diaspora, as well as the second wave in Israel of the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout on the economy.

GVS News Desk with additional input from Anadolu and other sources

Will India recognise the dissonance in this advice? Share your view with us in the comments bar below.