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Posted at: Feb 13, 2018, 12:25 AM; last updated: Feb 13, 2018, 12:25 AM (IST)

Modi in Palestine

Diluting principles for realism
Modi in Palestine
A climbdown in the Indian stand on Palestine was a matter of when and how much ever since PM Narendra Modi made open his government's partiality for Israel. That the PM dropped two crucial adjectives from the standard Indian formulation on Palestine while on a visit to its capital and with its President by his side indicates he had no reservations about wearing this shift in the Indian stance on his sleeve. That moment, however, had not come two months earlier when US President Donald Trump decided to shift the American embassy to Jerusalem that is contested by the Palestinians and Israel. The Indian protestation at Trump's altering of the status quo was feeble but such was the global annoyance over Washington’s attempt to shift the goalposts that India went along with most of the world in the UN vote.

In his speech at Ramallah, Modi expressed support for a sovereign, independent Palestine but dropped two words — “united” and “viable” — that were invariably mentioned in all Indian formulations on the dispute. By dropping “united”, Modi has moved closer to the hard-line Israeli and American positions. It means India will no longer seek the removal of Israelis who have illegally settled on Palestinian land since the war in 1967. The exclusion of “viable” means Palestinians will not get access to ports and airports which is a key condition by the Israeli right wing for settling the dispute. 

Israel is no more the pariah it once was. But if Modi’s statement is not an aberration, India has made more than a leap of faith. About a year back, it had dropped its insistence on a two-state solution which has not been done even by countries under the US security umbrella. Modi's incentive appears to be purely transactional —extract instant gains from the current Israeli government. Another bonus is that India gets on the same page as the new peace plan masterminded by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. But the danger is that if Kushner’s plan goes the same way as all previous peace plans, India will be left in an embarrassing position: jettisoning principles for a chimera.

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