The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh has a habit of spreading lies and propaganda when it comes to the Congress party’s opinion and India’s historical relations with Palestine and Israel It is right that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister to visit Israel, but the groundwork for the same has been laid by the Congress and successive Governments, including that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in the past. Although, the BJP with its inherent bigotry and hatred towards the Muslims feels it convenient to mock the Palestinian cause. Also, its instinctual anti-Muslim politics makes it see Israel as an ally on the common grounds that both the Israelis and the Hinduvawadis have an antipathy to Muslims.
The media blitzkrieg and the hullabaloo on Modi’s Israel visit is being blown out of proportion without seeing the actual realities and the past relationship between India and Israel & India and Palestine.
India’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its attitude to the Palestinian question was given voice during our freedom struggle by Mahatma Gandhi. India’s empathy with the Palestinian cause and its friendship with the people of Palestine have become an integral part of our time tested foreign policy. Mahatma Gandhi had clearly spelled out that though he was sympathetic to the Jews and was aware of their persecutions, he was not in favour of a forced settlement between Israel and Palestine, which was already home to the Arabs.
This very line was echoed by Dr Manmohan Singh in 2012, when in September, 2012 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited India.
Dr Manmohan Singh reiterated “India’s firm support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side and at peace with Israel”.
Few hours ago, while giving an interview to an Israeli magazine Prime Minister, Modi also echoed similar sentiments.
“India believes in a two-state solution in which both Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist peacefully.” The Prime Minister supported all efforts to find an acceptable solution to all the pending issues, ‘including Jerusalem’. “A final-status agreement should respect the sentiments and address demands of all affected parties,” Modi said.
India’s diplomatic stand is crystal clear when it comes to the bilateral relations between Israel and Palestine is concerned. It should be resolved on the basis of the Oslo accord signed between the two in 1993.
India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru held the same belief and followed the line taken by Mahatma Gandhi in saying no to Israel if it was not with the permission of the Arabs of Palestine. He even refused Albert Einstein’s appeal to vote in favour of the partition of Palestine, an event that later led to formation of Israel on May 14, 1948. Other factors, too, weighed heavily on Nehru’s mind when he said no to Einstein and when India voted against the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) resolution on partition of Palestine on November 29 1947.
A cursory look at the relations between India and both the countries prove that, under Congress party, both have been given importance. Of course, while India has its own defence interests in mins when it comes to Israel, it has been always sympathetic to the Palestinian cause at hand.
The BJP which takes credit of PM, Shri Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel, must also know the following facts :
o It was the Congress Government that first established full relations with Israel.
o In March 2014, while the Congress-UPA was in power, the Indian Army Chief , General Bikram Singh visited Israel to deepen the defense ties with Israel. Later Israel’s Air Force chief also visited India.
o The UPA expanded ties with Israel in various fields like Agriculture, Trade, Science & Technology, Homeland Security, Defense, Culture and Education, While keeping in mind the rightful sentiments of the people of Palestine.
o In March 2016, under BJP- India Votes Against Israel on Key Settlements Resolution in the United Nations
Agriculture Ties with Israel during UPA
The Congress-UPA signed the bilateral action plan 2012–15 with Israel, under Dr Manmohan Singh. expanded agricultural cooperation into different states such as Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat etc. 15 Centers of Excellence in agriculture have already been commissioned in these states. It was later on, did the Modi Government renewed the same bilateral action plan with Israel for 2015–18.
India has benefited from Israeli expertise and technologies in horticulture mechanization, protected cultivation, orchard and canopy management, nursery management, micro-irrigation and post-harvest management particularly in Haryana and Maharashtra. Israeli drip irrigation technologies and products are now widely used in India. Some Israeli companies and experts are providing expertise to manage and improve dairy farming in India through their expertise in high milk yield.
Defence & Homeland Security Ties with Israel Under UPA
In February 2014, (again under Congress-UPA) India and Israel signed three important agreements on
1) Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters,
2) Cooperation in Homeland and Public Security, and
3) Protection of Classified Material.
Under Cooperation in Homeland Security, four working groups in the areas of border management, internal security and public safety, police modernization and capacity building for combating crime, crime prevention and cyber crime were established.
These groups regularly meet in India and Israel. IPS officer trainees of 2012 and 2013 batches visited Israel in 2015 for foreign exposure visit.
Since the last 25 years, India has had sound diplomatic relations with Israel, while firmly supporting the cause of the Palestinian people. Diplomatic ties with any country are a continuous evolving process, and the seeds sown by the Congress to strengthen its relation with both Palestine and Israel are in progress. Therefore, it is not correct to say that Congress PM’s did not take Israel as a serious diplomatic partner. History tells us that they gave importance to the wishes of the Palestinian people, while enhancing co-operation with Israel.
Facts speak. So, let us not fall in the trap the BJP’s propaganda which plays one country against another domestically, in order to defame the Congress party.