Five days into the brutal israeli assault on Gaza, New Delhi has spoken. The mandarins in South Block in their cloistered chambers apparently weighed the scale carefully and chose to take a neutral, impassive equidistant stance. Of course, such a stance favors Israel, but then, isn’t that the desired objective?
The point is, Delhi wouldn’t be drawn into the disproportionate scale of the Israeli violence on Gaza, as it will tread on the sensitivities of the close friend. Equally, it is now India’s policy to equate the Palestinian resistance with the israeli violence. As for the blockade of Gaza, which is the root cause of the current cycle of violence, Delhi keeps mum.
No doubt, Israel will be mighty thrilled at the Indian stance. Hopefully, India will garner some downstream benefits as quid pro quo.
The UPA government is, generally, speaking, sensitive on “Muslim votes”, especially as the Congress-led government is tiptoeing toward general election. But in the present case, it estimates shrewdly that the Muslim electorate in India is not swayed by the Palestinian issue. After all, Israeli violence on the Palestinians is as ancient as the hills but India’s electoral politics remained untouched.
Besides, India attaches great importance to the defence and security cooperation with Israel. Priorities are clear. The Israeli Lobby in Washington also has been a useful conduit for India to influence the US policies. What can Mohammed Abbas or Ismail Haniye do for India in comparison?
Good question, indeed. However, the mandarins in South Block are overlooking that the Gaza violence is also unfolding against a historic regional backdrop. And the doublespeak of the pro-West Arab regimes on the Palestine problem is not going to be sustainable for long.
India cannot take comfort that it is playing the same game on the Palestine issue that the emir of Qatar or the Saudi and Jordanian kings are playing. Those autocrats are not on the right side of history. Nor is israel. But India has the advantage of its own colonial history to anticipate the footfalls of history in the Middle East. Especially with a historian as our new External Affairs Minister.
– November 19, 2012