June 07, 2015

Abandoning Palestine for Israel

THE External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Israel at a mutually agreed date. This will be the first time an Indian prime minister visits Israel. The significance of such a visit would be that the close strategic relationship existing between the two countries will be given an official stamp. As some commentators have put in, Indo-Israeli relations will be “coming out of the closet”. Given the BJP’s ideological affinity to Israel and Zionism, it is not surprising that Narendra Modi has decided to break new ground with Israel by paying an official visit. During the NDA government, the then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani had visited Israel in 2000 and a series of major security and military collaboration agreements followed. India had established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 under the Narasimha Rao government. The formation of the Narendra Modi government heralded closer ties with Israel. The Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India in February this year. This was the first time an Israeli defense minister visited India in an official capacity. During the visit, he had stated that “Both countries have found ways to cooperate on security and defense behind the scenes” and indicated that security ties were being expanded away from the public domain. Israel is, at present, India’s second biggest arm supplier. The government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu was reelected after the elections held in Israel in March this year. It is a government dominated by rightwing and Jewish extremist parties. Modi will be visiting Israel when the Netanyahu government is aggressively going ahead with nullifying any possibility of a political settlement with the Palestinian leadership. The new Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely who is in-charge of running the foreign ministry day-to-day, pronounced that the West Bank and occupied Palestinian territories belonged to Israel as they were given by God. The ministry is dominated by Greater Israel advocates who want the West Bank annexed by Israel. They support Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a way to take over Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. There was a Bill pending from the previous parliament to declare Israel a state of the Jewish people. The Modi government and the BJP have no qualms whatsoever in extending support to such a racist and reactionary government. While formally maintaining India’s longstanding position of support to the cause of the Palestinian people, the Modi government is now openly working to undermine this stand. As expected, the corporate media has written editorials welcoming Modi’s proposed visit to Israel and hailing it as a measure of real politik. The initiative to put Indo-Israel ties on a new footing is in line with the overall foreign policy direction of the Modi government which is to entangle India fully in the geo-political strategy of the United States of America. Modi’s visits to Japan and Australia, two close allies of USA in the Asia-Pacific region, led to the signing of new security and military cooperation agreements with them. From the US strategic standpoint, Israel is another key ally with whom India should partner. The Modi visit to Israel will be another step in cementing this strategic alliance being forged under the leadership of the United States. It will also signal the abandonment of India’s steadfast commitment to an independent Palestinian state. (June 2, 2015)