Due to India’s lack of diplomatic ties with Israel over the last five decades, Indians have a limited understanding of Israeli ideology and concerns about their neighbours. Furthermore, India has had little or no historical interaction with Jews in Israel and throughout the globe. There was also a lack of public awareness of the underlying divisions, ambitions, and rivalries among people of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam throughout West Asia and the Gulf Region, all of whom consider Jerusalem as their sacred city.
In Israel, there is now a significant religious split between the Jewish people and the country’s minority Muslim community. This is in stark contrast to what occurred in India in 1947 when the nation was split along religious lines. India’s Constitution is secular. With the formation of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistan, which believed in Jinnah’s “two-nation doctrine” of separating people based on religion, broke apart. This has led to the issue of whether religion alone can serve as a sustainable foundation for nationhood.
Even now, prejudices exist amongst individuals who follow the three ‘Semitic’ religions in West Asia. For Christians, Jerusalem is the holiest city since it is where Jesus Christ was crucified and buried. For the Jewish people who were victims of the Holocaust, Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, is the ‘Promised Land,’ where they had long longed to dwell. After Mecca and Medina, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is Islam’s third holiest location. Protests in east Jerusalem sparked a recent flare-up in the Palestinian state of Gaza. The demonstrations followed Israel’s decision to remove six Palestinian families from their homes. The Palestinians were worried that the Israeli Supreme Court would rule against them. They believed that, under international law, the land they were being ejected from was theirs. The situation worsened, with massive firefights breaking out between Palestinians in Gaza and Israelis. In the exchange of fire, 256 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children. In its ties with Israel on the one hand and its Arab neighbours on the other, India has wisely chosen a difficult balancing act.
While India’s ties with Israel have grown stronger, Prime Minister Modi has established a close personal connection with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Modi, on the other hand, made a point of visiting Ramallah, the Palestinian capital, and meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In recent years, Israel has developed a surprising new connection with several of its Arab neighbours, who, like Israel, have seen their ties with Iran deteriorate.
Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, and Morocco are the six Arab nations that have established diplomatic ties with Israel. Other major Arab nations, such as Saudi Arabia, have had private and direct discussions with Israel. They share a desire to oppose Iran’s regional influence, particularly Tehran’s backing for extremist Arab organisations. The emphasis of attention in the West Asia area has shifted from Arab Israeli competition to Arab Persian (Iranian) rivalry in recent decades.
When then-Prime Minister Narasimha Rao recognised Israel, the Arab world was disappointed. Arab nations, on the other hand, quickly realised that India would continue to be interested in and sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Modi travelled from Jordan to Ramallah on a Jordanian chopper, accompanied by Israeli military planes, for a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas. India’s Permanent Representative TS Tirumurti spelt out what India expects from Israel and Palestine during recent Security Council talks on events in Gaza and Jerusalem: “Immediate de-escalation is the necessity of the hour.” We encourage all parties to exercise patience, abstain from acts that increase tensions, and avoid unilaterally changing the status quo, particularly in east Jerusalem and its environs. ‘
Israel recognises that European countries are becoming more sensitive to the Palestinians’ predicament. Following his meeting with Abbas in Ramallah, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that the US has chosen to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, in a significant show of solidarity. Netanyahu’s tough stance on Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem, is seen as unhelpful by the US.
While the Palestinian problem is unlikely to be addressed quickly, President Biden’s interest in rebuilding Palestinians whose houses in Gaza were damaged by Israeli bombing is significant. Meanwhile, Israel will continue to pursue official diplomatic recognition from Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia. Israel would be wise to refrain from future incursions into Palestinian territory, particularly in Jerusalem. Measures to reduce Palestinian alienation must be given a realistic form.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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