Prime Minister Modi makes up the first PM to visit Israel but it is reported that he will not visit Palestinian side, against to the earlier practice of visiting both sides which was done by our President Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Ministers, Jaswant Singh in 2000, S.M. Krishna in 2012 and Sushma Swaraj in 2016. This shift is not seen as healthy by Dr. Majdi Elkhadi, the Diplomatic Advisor to the Palestinian President, who appeals for a ‘balanced act of India that could bring both Israel and Palestine to settle their scores by adopting the two nation theory.’
The dispute between Israel and Palestine
Israelites claim that Palestine is their ‘Promised Land by God as they are Yahweh’s chosen people’. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the League of Nations resolution in 1922 have given leverage to Jews across the world to return to Palestine as a response to the justification of Zionist Movement that ‘Land without people could be a Land for People without Land’. Since, the Christian Zionists also supported this slogan, United Nations in 1947 resolved to create a Jewish state within Palestine. This resulted in 55% of Palestinian area was given to Jewish state, although the Jewish population was only around 30% at that point of time, who owned only 7% of total land. This resolution favoured Jews to move in to this state and settle there as Israelis.
While native Palestinians were pushed to a smaller area and rejected this unjust declarations and partition, Jews declared the formation of ‘State of Israel in May 1948’. This ended in Palestine War between the native Palestinians and the new Jewish settlers. Obviously, Israelis won the war with the support of US and European Allies and conquered 78 percent of Palestine; hundreds of towns and villages had been obliterated; around 700,000 Arabs had to flee from their homeland as refugees otherwise known as ‘Nakba, the catastrophe’. This caused promotion of PLO –Palestinian Liberation Organization– having Yasser Arafat as its Leader and won international recognition as the representative of the Palestinian people.
Despite this dispute and the subsequent war in1967, Israel passed a law in 1980 that Jerusalem is the ‘complete and united’ capital of Israel. However, the UN Security Council resolution 478 of 1980 declared that the claim of Israel to keep Jerusalem as its capital was ‘null and void’. When this being the status, East Jerusalem where most of the Holy places of all the three religions –Judaism, Christianity and Islam-are situated, Israelis unmindful of the UN resolution and the voice of the international community including Palestine, still holds this city under its armed forces – military and police.
Continued Persecution on Palestinians
This detestable aggression ensures favorable gains to Jews but untold miseries and violence against Palestinians. While Israel encourages Jews anywhere in the world to return to Israel and provides all facilities for their settlement, there is an outright denial of right to return of the native Palestinian refugees who flee during the time of conflicts and war; Israel confiscates the lands of exiled Palestinians and distributes the same to the Jewish settlers; Palestinians are forced to live in their own land as internal refugees; While Jewish settlers get all basic amenities like water at free of cost, Palestinians have to pay for it; the traditional religious places of worship that are common to all three religions are forcefully brought under the control of Israeli-military and police-and extreme restrictions are imposed on Christian and Muslim Palestinians which amount to denial of their right to profess their faith; Israel’s continued military occupation and confiscation of privately owned land in the West Bank, and control over Gaza, are extremely oppressive and the existence of Palestinians is under threat; Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children are held in Israeli prisons and hardly they are able to avail fair trial and justice; Walls of separation are built in many parts of the country and the free mobility of Palestinians are enormously restricted and denied that amount to exclusion and discrimination; Draconian laws are enacted to discriminate, subjugate, exploit and suppress Palestinians and International Human Rights norms, bills, treaties, instruments and mechanisms and even the Resolutions of UN are extensively ignored and violated. In short, Palestinians right to live with dignity and freedom is at stake.
India’s position on Israel and Palestine
While International Community has become conspicuously silent owing to the heavy pressure by the Christian Zionists and their Governments, India is known for its unequivocal support to the Statehood of Palestine, right from the days of PLO and Yasser Arafat. However, recently India developed a strong business relationship with Israel and maintains economic, technological co-operation besides arms trade. To the surprise of many countries, India recently abstained from voting in UNHRC for adopting a ‘Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict’ that condemns Israel’s brutal actions during seven week long military operations against Hamas controlled Gaza in 2013 which killed civilians as well. This was seen as a major shift by the Modi Govt from India’s historical/ideological positioning.
In the midst of this state of affairs, our Prime Minister visits Israel but doesn’t seem to visit the Palestinian side. The Prime Minister needs to look back the role of India in supporting the cause of Palestinians whose land, life, dignity, freedom, justice and peace are being thwarted by the Israeli occupation and settlement. Indian Prime Minister should maintain India’s tradition of Non Violence and Non-Cooperation to unjust occupation of territories by force, militarism and extremism. When our PM is proud enough of India’s heritage, culture and its fast economic development, he should also see India’s name and image is sustained by lending support to the politically and militarily oppressed nation and its people! It is just and priority that the Prime Minister should visit Palestine side as well and also raise the plight and right of Palestinians with Israeli Authorities !
Rev Dr. Vincent Manoharan PhD.