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India Reaffirms Support for Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine Conflict

Context:

Recently, India reiterated that it was one of the first countries to recognize Palestine and has long supported the two-state solution to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Israel-Palestine Conflict
  2. Emergence of Hamas and the Oslo Accords
  3. Territorial Disputes of Israel with Neighboring Countries
  4. Evolution of India’s Relationship with Israel
  5. Impact of Assault on Israel-Saudi Arabia Ties
  6. Way Forward

About the Two-State Solution:

  • The two-state solution is seen as the most viable path to achieving peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • It envisions the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel, providing both groups with their own sovereign territories.
Origins of the Two-State Solution:
  • In 1947, the United Nations proposed a plan to partition Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem under international administration. The Jewish leaders accepted the plan, which allocated them 56% of the land.
  • The state of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948. The following day, five Arab states launched an attack. The ensuing war concluded with Israel controlling 77% of the territory.
  • Approximately 700,000 Palestinians were displaced, many fleeing to neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as regions like the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
  • During the 1967 war, Israel captured the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan and took Gaza from Egypt, thereby gaining control over the area from the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley.
  • Today, Palestinians remain without a state, many living under Israeli occupation or as refugees in adjacent countries.

The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Origins of Conflict:

  • The conflict traces its roots back to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, where the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour expressed official support for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine.

Creation of Palestine:

  • In 1948, Britain, unable to quell Arab-Jewish violence, withdrew its forces from Palestine, leaving the responsibility of resolving competing claims to the newly formed United Nations.
  • The UN proposed a partition plan to establish independent Jewish and Arab states in Palestine, but it was not accepted by most Arab nations.

Arab-Israel War (1948):

  • Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 led to attacks by surrounding Arab states. Israel ended up controlling about 50% more territory than originally envisioned by the UN partition plan.

UN Partition Plan:

  • The UN partition plan saw Jordan control the West Bank and Jerusalem’s holy sites, while Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip. However, it didn’t resolve the Palestinian crisis, resulting in the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1964.

Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO):

  • Founded with the goal of freeing Palestine from Israeli rule and Jewish dominance, establishing Muslim Brotherhood dominance in the Arab world.
  • The United Nations granted PLO observer status in 1975, recognizing Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Six-Day War (1967):

  • Israeli forces seized 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 “Framework for Peace in the Middle East,” brokered by the U.S., laid the groundwork for peace talks between Israel and its neighbors and a resolution to the “Palestinian problem,” although this remained unfulfilled.

Emergence of Hamas and the Oslo Accords

Founding of Hamas (1987):

  • In 1987, Hamas, a violent offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was founded. It sought to fulfill its agenda through violent jihad and is regarded as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
  • In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian Authority’s legislative elections, leading to its control of Gaza and the expulsion of Fatah in 2007, resulting in a geographical split in the Palestinian movement.

First Intifada (1987):

  • The First Intifada (Palestinian Uprising) began in 1987 as tensions in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza reached a boiling point.
  • This uprising evolved into a small war between Palestinian militants and the Israeli army.

Oslo Accords (1993):

  • In 1993, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo Accords. The agreements led to both parties officially recognizing each other and renouncing the use of violence.
  • The Oslo Accords also established the Palestinian Authority, which was granted limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza (2005):

  • In 2005, Israel initiated a unilateral withdrawal of Jewish settlements from Gaza, while maintaining tight control over all border crossings, effectively imposing a blockade on the region.

UN Recognition (2012):

  • In 2012, the United Nations upgraded Palestinian representation to that of a “non-member observer state.”

Territorial Disputes of Israel with Neighboring Countries

West Bank:

  • The West Bank is situated between Israel and Jordan, with its major city being Ramallah, the de facto administrative capital of Palestine.
  • Israel took control of the West Bank during the 1967 war and has since established settlements in the region.

Gaza:

  • The Gaza Strip is located between Israel and Egypt.
  • Israel occupied Gaza after the 1967 war but transferred control of Gaza City and day-to-day administration in most of the territory during the Oslo peace process.
  • In 2005, Israel unilaterally removed Jewish settlements from Gaza, although it retains control over international access to the territory.

Golan Heights:

  • The Golan Heights is a strategically important plateau captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 war.
  • Israel effectively annexed the territory in 1981.
  • The USA has officially recognized Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as part of Israel in recent developments.

Evolution of India’s Relationship with Israel

India’s Stand on the Israel-Palestine Conflict:
  • India initially opposed the UN’s partition plan in 1947, reflecting its own recent experience of independence.
  • India recognized Israel in 1950 but was also the first non-Arab country to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinians.
  • India recognized the statehood of Palestine in 1988.
  • In recent times, India’s policy has shifted toward dehyphenation, maintaining a balancing act between its historical support for Palestine and its friendly ties with Israel.
  • India advocates a Two-State Solution and the right to self-determination for both Israel and Palestine.

Impact of Assault on Israel-Saudi Arabia Ties:

  • Hamas’ assault on Israel may have disrupted efforts to bring Saudi Arabia and Israel closer, along with other countries interested in normalizing relations.
  • Hamas emphasized threats to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Israeli blockade on Gaza, and Israeli normalization with regional countries.
  • Dehyphening Saudi Arabia from Israel could promote the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda and territorial sovereignty in the Arab and Middle East region.
  • The normalization of ties between regional powers and Israel may strengthen Israel’s position regarding Palestinian territories.
  • Ties with UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc., could facilitate infrastructure development and create inter-dependence among these countries, affecting the Palestinians.

Way Forward:

  • A balanced approach is essential to maintain favorable relations with Arab countries and Israel.
  • Recent normalization agreements, such as the Abraham Accords, are positive steps, and regional powers should work toward peace.
  • India, as a member of multilateral organizations, should cooperate with relevant parties to achieve security and stability in the Middle East and West Asia.
  • India’s role as a mediator in the Israel-Palestine issue should be promoted through platforms like the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council.

-Source: Indian Express


June 2024
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