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Why India shifted on Israel UNGA vote

ABIGAIL DAMERI MASHARING/An Awaaz South Asia Interview | 14/11/2023


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The Israelis dont seem to be bothered by the resolution at the UN General Assembly passed last week censuring its "settlements in Occupied Palestine" because it is confident of US support, even though the Arab world is increasingly furious relentless bombardment of Gaza. However, India must remain strategic and maintain a balance between its relationship with Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, Navdeep Suri, India former ambassador to the UAE, Egypt and Australia has said.
In an exclusive interview on the Awaaz South Asia YouTube channel with Founder-Editor Nirupama Subramanian, Suri spoke in detail about the continuing conflict in Gaza in which more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed so far, about half of them children. He analysed the two resolutions at the UNGA over the last couple of weeks, the first in which India abstained (on October 27) and the second last week, and India evolving response to both.

“India is always in favour of the illegal settlement of the Israelis in Gaza but India’s position is still inclined towards Israel, which goes along the US position for a humanitarian pause and not a cease-fire”, Suri said.
India response to the first resolution is more complicated while the second is a no-brainer they are completely different,” Suri added.
Asked if these resolutions would bother Israel, Suri said that “these resolutions do not matter (to Israel) because it has always acted with a degree of impunity and this is drawn from the willingness of the US to use its veto at the UN Security Council (UNSC) to make sure that no resolution that is offensive to Israel is passed." he also pointed out that the Biden administrations tough talks about its attempts at containing the Gaza conflict will not wash in the Arab world.
The people of the Arab world are angry. In the last four weeks, major Arab countries have rebuked Israel and there and this may have an effect on the process of normalisation between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, Suri said.
Asked if a two-state solution that is, two independent states of Palestine and Israel living side by side is a possibility, Suri said he had two points of view on this historical question, which nevertheless continues to have repercussions in the present moment. His "optimistic view," he said, is about the Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu losing power and  the election of a Centrist Israeli government in his place, which is far willing to negotiate with Palestine for a two-state solution, legitimise Palestinian power and persuade the US administration come up with a new process for peace.
As for his "realistic view," Suri said, he believed that Netanyahu “will side with ilelgal Israeli settlers and Palestine will be persuaded to get less than a state like territory.”
Asked about Indias options in such a complex and fast-evolving situation, Suri said India must remain strategic in its approach but “it’s opinions have no leverage.”
Suri pointed out that the only countries that have leverage on the matter of Israel and Palestine are “Egypt because of its border with Gaza, and Qatar, as it plays host to the Hamas political leadership.”
Asked if this conflict could expand to other actors in the Middle East, Suri confidently responded that “this is not going to happen and if it does, countries that share a border with Israel, like Lebanon could possibly get involved. He pointed out that firing has been witnessed between Israelis and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in recent days.
Suri pointed out that the fast-moving nature of the conflict meant that “regional events could get out of control” and one accident can have a domino effect. He agreed that this conflict had the potential of shifting the politics of the Middle East when it finally came to an end.

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