The foreign policy of India has taken many leaps in the last couple of decades, especially in the case of Israel-Palestine conflict. As a responsible country, it is essential that India must keep its stand clear.
As External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said during the Non-Alignment Movement’s Ministerial meeting, “The path to Israel-Jerusalem peace clearly lay in an early negotiated solution between Israel and Palestine based on mutual recognition and security arrangements”
The message is clear, we must steer clear out of this issue. And, thus, without making much fuss or openly criticising the US and Israel, India silently voted against the US proposal to make Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The move of the US was purely driven by the policy of forceful expansion and, in my view, had no merit either.
First of all, we must understand, Jerusalem had been a Holy City of the Jews, Christians as well as Muslims. It is considered as one of the holiest cities in the world. Its appeal is spiritual, cultural and historical. Not necessarily political or administrative.
However, making Jerusalem the capital would invariably shift all elements of state politics to a city considered sacred. This is something like shifting India’s capital to Haridwar or Varanasi and Saudi Arabia’s capital from Riyadh to Mecca or Medina. Such decisions don’t have good implications in the long term.
Secondly, we already know that the town of Jerusalem had been a bone of contention between the three religious communities. Till date, we have a rather stable and acceptable solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, it is not advised to disturb the status-quo. The same is applicable in the case of the Kashmir problem, and the international community accepts that. Till date not a single country has said that the entire Kashmir belongs to India.
Thirdly, we must understand that the US himself had been sidelined much before the resolution was tabled itself. The two countries which presented the resolution were Yemen and Turkey. The involvement of Turkey makes it clear the anguish that has been created by the decision of the US on the matter. Historically, Turkey had been a trusted ally of the US and a NATO member. It receives billions of US Dollars in aid every year.
The Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan in his recent speech at Ankara said, “Mr. Trump, you cannot buy Turkey's democratic will with your dollars".
Now that’s quite a bit for the US ego.
Fourthly, the UN resolution has nothing to say about the US. It talks generally about the Jerusalem and says, "Any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard, calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city of Jerusalem pursuant to Security Council resolution 478 (1980); It also demands that all states comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem and not recognise any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions”
My first point is mentioned by UN in its statement, and that too very loud and clear. Maintain the sanctity of a Holy City. In the large gathering of states, India knew that this resolution will win and, hence, it was a right decision to support it.
While few of the people take it as India’s support to Palestine, I think it is not the case. Being a responsible member of the UN, India must respect the sanctity of the UN resolution 478.
India accepts Palestine as a country and the ties between the two countries have been old. In the times when the US was actively supporting Pakistan, Palestine was standing with India. We must respect this aspect too.
Moreover, India should act as a responsible leader of the world. Being a future superpower of the world, India must balance out its foreign relations and policies which is not possible by taking sides of one group or the another. India’s views about Palestine have always been independent and consistent, and were not driven by the influence or pressure of any third country.
At last, I would like to say that our relationship with the US and Israel has a different dimension which cannot be altered by such minor actions. India-Israel-US constitutes a bulwark against terrorism and, we shall continue to fight the menace till it is wiped off the face of this planet.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL).