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India’s flawed Palestine policy : Ramallah has never supported India on Kashmir issue

Today Narendra Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister to land in Palestine. He is expected to announce Indian support for Palestine in the area of health and infrastructure. The PM is expected to announce setting up of a 100-bed super speciality hospital. As per reports, the visit will focus on humanitarian aspects rather than political aspects. The visit comes after India’s vote in favour of Palestine UNGA and a state visit by Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

India has supported Palestine consistently in the past

India has consistently supported the cause of Palestine in all forms. It has also assisted the country in monetary and development issues. The ministry of external affairs document (dated July 2016)  [pdf] on India- Palestine relations describes India- Palestine relations as follows :

India’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its attitude to the Palestinian question was given voice during our freedom struggle by Mahatma Gandhi. Since then, empathy with the Palestinian cause and friendship with the people of Palestine have become an integral part of India’s foreign policy. India was the first Non-Arab State to recognize PLO as sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. India was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine in 1988. In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the
Palestine Authority in Gaza, which later was shifted to Ramallah in 2003.

India has always played a proactive role in garnering support for the Palestinian cause in multilateral fora. India co-sponsored the draft resolution on “the right of Palestinians to self-determination” during the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly and voted in favour of it. India also voted in favour of UN General Assembly Resolution in October 2003 against the construction of the separation wall by Israel and supported subsequent resolutions of the UNGA in this regard. India voted in favour of accepting Palestine as a full member of UNESCO.

India has spent millions of dollars to assist Palestinian government so far. The document also speaks of monetary assistance given to Palestine by the Indian government:

India provided a budgetary assistance to a tune of US$ 30 million to Palestine in different stages. During the visit of President Abbas to India in the year 2008, India announced a grant of US$ 10 million as budgetary support and this was transferred to Palestine March 2009.

During the visit of President Abbas to India in February 2010, India announced a budgetary support of US$ 10 million and this was transferred in the month of March 2010. Again in 2012, during the visit of President Abbas India announced a grant of US$ 10 million budgetary support to Palestine. During the year 2015, India provided a total of $9 million as financial assistance to Palestine; $4 million was provided as project assistance towards the reconstruction of Gaza (on 12 January 2015), and $5million was provided as budgetary assistance (on 12 October 2015)

Palestine has not supported India on Kashmir dispute

Any normal Indian citizen would expect a reciprocal support by Palestine for India in the Kashmir dispute. However, that has not been announced by any Palestine leader in the past. Instead, a Palestine ambassador Walid Abu Ali had shared stage with Hafiz Saeed, a known India hater and a terrorist responsible for 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. An Indian tax payer has every right to ask the reason for spending money in Palestine if we don’t get anything in return.

The ‘rational’ excuse for supporting Palestine among secular-liberal brigade is to ensure that we get oil supplies and safeguard Indian workers in middle-east and west Asia. However, we know that those workers are integral part of their economies and the India is one of the largest markets for oil sales. Therefore, these excuses are invalid.

Palestine policy must not be run with a view on Muslim votes in India

On this occasion, Palestine recalled it ambassador and issued a statement thanking India for its support and called the ambassador’s action as “unintended mistake but not justified“. Compare this to Israel’s stand which has always supported India on Kashmir. India has also taken into account domestic Muslim electorate in shaping its Palestine policy.

While one is not surprised about UPA’s stand on Palestine, the failure of Modi government to rectify this anomaly is disappointing. The external affairs minister’s tweet after UNGA vote on December 21 is shocking. Badruddin Ajmal, president of AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) thanked for India’s vote in favor of Palestine, Sushma Swaraj quoted the tweet and said ‘Now you vote for us.’ Is NDA running foreign policy to garner votes at home ?

Foreign policy is run for furthering national interest . It is based on the principle of give and take. It is not about moral posturing or appeasing some section of electorate at home. India must stop its moral posturing on Palestine and allow the issue to be sorted bilaterally between Palestine and Israel.

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