Latest political grapevine suggests that India’s longstanding position on the Palestinian crisis, which itself has been undergoing gradual but definitive shifts, is about to undergo a more than formidable change, if not an outright and radical reversal. If the recent reports are to be believed, New Delhi will be shifting its stance from favouring the formation of independent Palestine to that of abstention from voting. From an ardent supporter of the rights to liberation and self-determination of the displaced and colonised Palestinians, India has been inching towards muted neutrality, given its increasing bonhomie with Israel, one of its key arms suppliers at present. Two decades of diplomatic relationship with Tel Aviv has substantially impacted New Delhi’s attitude towards the Middle East in general and the blatantly illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine in particular. But the cherry on the cake of this ‘diplomatic thaw’ can be picked now, with an overtly assertive right-wing union government explaining the need to be ‘pragmatic’ over the issue, especially in the wake of sealed and pending billion-dollar defence deals that India and Israel are currently banking on. In addition, there’s that obvious threat of global terror and Tel Aviv has already dangled the twin carrots of intelligence sharing and shoring up defence firewalls, both digital and on the ground, to lure an already willing New Delhi into absolute agreement with its own patently illegitimate project of indefinitely occupying Palestinian territories.
Even though the recent pummeling of colonies in Gaza by Israeli Defence Forces had attracted severe criticism in Indian Parliament only months back, the current denomination clearly believes in realignment of alliances which it dubs strategic pragmatism. But this hardened stance on Palestine sits neatly with the BJP government’s own hardly veiled ideals of a Hindu Rashtra. In addition, coinciding with the rise of Narendra Modi and his brand of religious and economic conservatism, a newfound admiration for unapologetic and muscular Zionism has gained ground in India ostensibly to combat the ‘green menace’, a euphemism for Islamic fundamentalism as well as general Islamophobia that is common to both the Hindutva brigade back home and the orthodox Jewish lobby in Tel Aviv. Of late, strategic analysts have been singing paeans to Israel’s ‘strong handling’ of Hamas and Hezbollah, organisations that Tel Aviv as well as Washington have long branded as terrorist outfits, justifying the occupation of Gaza and West Bank. In fact, while Parliament witnessed an orchestrated ‘debate’ on Gaza violence, and as India voted for a UNHRC inquiry into Israeli brutalities in Palestine, backchannel negotiations were on to facilitate the $525-million deal to buy Israel’s state-of-the-art guided Spike missiles. However, forgetting the important lessons of a common anti-colonial struggle to side with Israel for reasons patently racist and discriminatory will undo years of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Such a shame.