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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 24 May 2024

  1. The Recognition of Palestine by More Nations
  2. New Challenges for India’s Foreign Policy


Context:

Ireland, Norway, and Spain have announced their plans to officially recognize the state of Palestine next week, highlighting the shifting international opinion that the Israeli Prime Minister cannot afford to ignore.

Relevance:

GS2-

  • Bilateral Groupings and Agreements
  • Regional Groupings
  • Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

Mains Question:

The recognition of Palestine by more nations is an indictment of Israel. Analyse. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

The Israel-Palestine Conflict: An Overview:

Balfour Declaration (1917): The conflict’s roots trace back to 1917 when British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour expressed Britain’s support for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine through the Balfour Declaration.

Creation of Palestine: In 1948, Britain, unable to manage the escalating Arab and Jewish violence, withdrew its forces from Palestine, leaving the issue to the newly established United Nations. The UN proposed a partition plan to create separate Jewish and Arab states, but most Arab nations rejected it.

Arab-Israel War (1948): Following Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, neighboring Arab states attacked. By the end of the conflict, Israel had gained control of approximately 50% more territory than initially allocated by the UN partition plan.

UN Partition Plan: The plan resulted in Jordan controlling the West Bank and Jerusalem’s holy sites, and Egypt controlling the Gaza Strip. However, this did not resolve the Palestinian crisis, leading to the creation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964.

Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO): Founded to liberate Palestine from Israeli control and establish Muslim Brotherhood dominance in the Arab world, the PLO gained UN observer status in 1975 and recognition of Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Six-Day War (1967): Israeli forces captured the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Camp David Accords (1978): The U.S.-brokered “Framework for Peace in the Middle East” aimed to initiate peace talks between Israel and its neighbors and address the “Palestinian problem,” but the goal remained unmet.

Emergence of Hamas (1987): Hamas, a militant offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was founded to pursue its objectives through violent jihad. The U.S. government classifies Hamas as a terrorist organization. In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian Authority’s legislative elections and expelled Fatah from Gaza in 2007, creating a geographical split in the Palestinian movement. The same year saw the First Intifada, an uprising in the West Bank and Gaza against Israeli occupation.

Oslo Accords (1993): These accords led to mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO and the renunciation of violence. They also established the Palestinian Authority, granting it limited autonomy in Gaza and parts of the West Bank.

2005: Israel unilaterally withdrew Jewish settlements from Gaza but maintained control over its border crossings.

2012: The UN upgraded Palestine’s status to a “non-member observer state.”

Territorial Disputes:

West Bank: Situated between Israel and Jordan, with Ramallah as its administrative capital, the West Bank has been under Israeli control since the 1967 war, with Israeli settlements established over time.

Gaza: Positioned between Israel and Egypt, Gaza was occupied by Israel after 1967 but was later relinquished during the Oslo peace process. In 2005, Israel withdrew settlements but still controls international access.

Golan Heights: A strategic plateau captured from Syria in the 1967 war and effectively annexed by Israel in 1981. The U.S. recently recognized both Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Present Conflict – Hamas Attack (2023):

  • The current conflict began with an attack by Hamas militants on Israeli forces and civilians, resulting in the capture of many civilians and causing a national emergency in Israel.
  • Hamas described the attack as retaliation for Israeli military operations in the West Bank and incidents at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
  • Over 5,000 missiles were launched from Gaza, controlled by Hamas, leading to casualties on both sides of the border.
  • In response to the surprise assault, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation ‘Iron Swords’ to strike Hamas targets in Gaza. The Israeli government plans ground incursions into Gaza to dismantle Hamas and transfer control to international authorities.

Recent Developments:

  • Recently, 143 countries, including India, supported a UN General Assembly resolution urging the UN Security Council to recognize Palestine, although the U.S. has vetoed such efforts.
  • Additionally, this week saw the International Criminal Court Prosecutor seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over actions in Gaza post-October 7, and for Hamas leaders for the attack that killed 1,200 in Israel, labeling these as “war crimes.”
  • Furthermore, the International Court of Justice is set to deliver a verdict on a petition by South Africa calling for further measures against Israel for “genocide.”

Significance of the Move by Ireland, Norway, and Spain:

  • The recent decision by these three countries, which have been outspoken critics of Israel and now join eight EU members that already recognize Palestinian statehood, may not significantly alter the situation on the ground.
  • However, it carries significant political and symbolic weight, particularly in light of Israel’s potential “final assault” on Rafah.
  • While the global community has largely condemned Hamas’s terrorist attacks, the importance of acknowledging the legitimate Palestinian government in the West Bank cannot be overstated, as “Hamas is not the Palestinian people.”
  • Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre explained that their move aims to support “moderate forces” in a prolonged and brutal conflict.
  • Spain’s action aligns with its current policy, demonstrated by its recent denial of port access to a Danish-flagged ship carrying explosives from India intended for Israel.
  • In response, Israel has recalled its ambassadors and summoned the envoys of all three countries for reprimand.
  • In the short term, the widespread consensus aims to pressure Israel’s government to reconsider its actions in Rafah, prevent further civilian casualties, and ensure humanitarian aid can enter Gaza freely.
  • In the long term, these messages serve to remind Israel’s Prime Minister that, despite his abandonment of the “two-state solution,” the international community still sees it as the path to peace.

Conclusion:

Ignoring these messages only increases Israel’s isolation, especially from an international community that initially showed strong sympathy on October 7 but has since become increasingly appalled by the ongoing military campaign.



Context:

The grueling Indian elections, one of the largest democratic exercises in the world, will conclude in about a week. A rush of pending policy decisions is expected to commence immediately. However, amidst all this, the geopolitical landscape has become increasingly complex since the elections were announced, showing no signs of calming down.

Relevance:

GS2-

  • India and its Neighborhood- Relations.
  • Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Mains Question:

The global geopolitical landscape has grown more complex with the growing Russia-China ties. Discuss. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

Ties Between Russia and China:

  • Russia, a long-time partner of India, completed its elections about a month ago. Following his reelection, President Putin made his first state visit to China last week.
  • Russia and China have emerged as pivotal UN Security Council permanent members, whose interests and policies are unlikely to align with the US-led bloc anytime soon.
  • The joint statement released after President Putin’s visit to China underscored the significance of his trip.
  • It sent a message to the Western bloc opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, occurring just as the Chinese president returned from meetings with top European Union leaders, the French President, and received strong support from several East European countries.
  • The European Union and recently the US have expressed serious concerns and implemented tariff measures in response to China’s non-competitive trade practices, particularly the influx of state-subsidized cheap electric vehicles into their markets.
  • Indian trade associations are worried that the loss of the lucrative US market for Chinese electric vehicles might result in these products being dumped in India, causing issues similar to those in Europe and the US.
  • Meanwhile, Russia has shown strong support for the Chinese automotive sector, likely sending a message to Europe and the US.
  • During President Putin’s state visit to China, he emphasized the positive expansion of Chinese automakers and household appliance manufacturers in the Russian market.
  • He acknowledged the negative impact of unlawful actions, sanctions, and restrictions, and expressed full support for collaboration with Chinese counterparts.
  • China has refrained from openly criticizing Russia over its war in Ukraine and has been accused in the past of covertly supplying military equipment.
  • Although Ukraine was mentioned in statements by both President Putin and President Xi Jinping, it was addressed subtly within broader discussions on international foreign policy and geopolitical matters.
  • On foreign policy, President Putin highlighted the joint effort to create a fairer and more democratic multipolar world order, emphasizing the central role of the UN and its Security Council, adherence to international law, cultural and civilizational diversity, and a balanced consideration of all members’ interests. He criticized the formation of alliances, deeming them extremely harmful and counterproductive.

Conclusion:

Reforming multilateral institutions, particularly the UN and securing a permanent membership, has been a long-term goal for India. The new Indian government will face significant challenges in foreign policy in light of the current geopolitical climate. The present geopolitical situation points out that nearly all multilateral forums, where key players and India are major contributors, will be influenced by domestic political pressures and issues.


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