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Palestine

 

Editorial. Ramawatar Sharma. XI. XVII. XIV


 

BEHIND INDIAN AID TO

 

PALESTINE




Ramawatar Sharma-fnbworld By Ramawatar Sharma

 

 


Palestinian woman's
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Palestine perhaps is a graveyard of diplomatic relationships on the eastern coast of Mediterranean Sea.  This is the most complex conflict zone on planet Earth. On one hand, Palestinians deserve a sovereign and viable homeland while on the other hand, Israel is too strong a nation to dictate terms to. The conflict alternates between hope and sudden spurt of violence leading to massive destruction of property and significant loss of life, mainly of civilians.


India shares affinity with Palestine as it has always supported the idea of self-determination in this area of continuous violence and believes that only negotiations would bring peace. India also knows it clearly that it cannot influence opinions and outcome here. Under these circumstances, the logical option for India is to help in reconstruction and humanitarian aid. And India has been doing this for a long period of time. The aid is through United Nations Aid Fund and this year, like last so many years, India has contributed $1million to this fund.


The other forum through which India contributes is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency( UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees in Jordan , Lebanon , Syria , West Bank and Gaza. Through this agency, India provides medicines, food and shelter.

Man with Palestinian
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Other than these contributions via United Nations, India helps Palestinians in the field of human development. The areas selected are some niche areas like construction and development of libraries and library-cum - activity centres, providing for security training slots to Palestinian officers in India and scholarships for some selected students for higher studies in India. These good humanitarian activities of India, unfortunately, go unnoticed in general but are expected to yield better results in future, whenever this region would be stabilized.


The Indian position in Israel and Palestine conflict is a bit ambiguous. India is against use of excessive military offensive by the Israel as this always leads to huge civilian casualties in the thickly populated region. Gaza is amongst the most densely populated areas of the world. It also supports creation of an independent, sovereign and viable state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. This Indian position is born out of two main reasons. Since early 1930s, India was an emotional nation under British rule and there was a struggle to be free and sovereign. And this psychology persists in Indian policy making. Secondly, by supporting the Palestinian cause, India wants to consolidate its relations with Islamic world, though, it is doubtful that this objective has ever been achieved in the past.


As far as Israel is concerned, it has its best customer in India. After USA, India is the second best business partner of Israel and is number one purchaser of arms from Israel. As per some studies conducted, the public support for Israel in India is more than even USA, although the government support is very balanced and noncommittal till now. Even with the change of government, it appears that more or less a status quo would be maintained.


The Indian strategy as a whole looks reasonable. In a complex conflict zone, taking sides serves no purpose, especially when both sides are highly driven by dogma and historical bias against each other. Humanitarian aid combined with reconstruction and development on a perpetual basis helps in reducing the suffering of the masses and creates a situation where negotiations can be possible in future.


Some observers feel Palestine has the potential to be a vibrant economy provided there is free access between Gaza and West Bank and the fear of Israeli air attacks subside. Once the people are involved in business and jobs, militancy may come down. But the Israel's fears too are real. The sudden and frequent missile attacks by Palestinian militants are highly provocative and Israel has its stated policy to act firmly and excessively. Under such a situation, the Indian efforts deserve more recognition and appreciation. India has good relations between both the warring nations, this must not be seen as dichotomous.

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