India-Israel Relations Take a Step Forward

Last Friday, India abstained from a vote on a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel’s conduct during the most recent Gaza war; on Tuesday, a delegation of Indian diplomats visited Israel. Raphael Ahren puts these developments in context:

Although New Delhi emphasized that its vote did not signal any change in its policy of support for the Palestinian cause, India’s abstention was celebrated in Israel as a remarkable diplomatic achievement. . . .

As a longstanding member of the non-aligned movement, which always votes with the Palestinians and against Israel, India’s abstention last Friday, which followed a telephone conversation between Benjamin Netanyahu and [India’s Narendra] Modi, indeed signaled a historic change. . . . On June 1, India also abstained in a vote on whether to grant the [Hamas-affiliated] Palestinian Return Center “consultative status” at the UN Economic and Social Council’s NGO committee.

Modi, who is expected in Israel later this year in what would be a historic first visit of an Indian prime minister, has accelerated the rapprochement with Jerusalem. While strong defense and business ties existed before he came to power in April 2014, he made the relationship much more visible.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Israel-India relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, United Nations

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary]. approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat