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Israel-India Cooperation Is Here to Stay

Sept. 14 2016

Since Narendra Modi became prime minister of India in 2014, his country’s relationship with Israel has warmed considerably. This development can be credited in part to the rapport between Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu and in part to the generally pro-Israel stance of Modi’s Hindu-nationalist BJP party, which, when previously in power, took steps to reverse New Delhi’s traditional pro-Arab stance. But actually, argues Harry Hoshovsky, the relationship is not dependent on any one party or leader, but is the result of long-term changes:

[I]t was under the leadership of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao [of the long-dominant Indian National Congress (INC)] that India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Given prior Indian hostility or indifference toward Israel, diplomatic normalization was a major shift in Indian foreign policy toward the Middle East. The end of the cold war and the initiation of the Oslo peace process afforded New Delhi the opportunity to recalibrate its engagement with both Israel and the Palestinians. Normalization allowed for increased economic, cultural, and security cooperation between Israel and India, while still allowing [the latter] to advocate on behalf of the Palestinians. . . .

After the BJP lost power in 2004, there were concerns that the INC-led [coalition] might roll back some of the diplomatic gains. These fears proved largely unfounded: the government deepened and broadened India’s relationship with Israel, . . . because of an important ideological shift in India regarding its diplomatic balancing act vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinian Authority: . . . starting in 2004, [India] quietly started to disconnect [its] foreign-policy calculations toward Israel from the vagaries of the peace process.

[In addition], Modi’s anticipated visit to Israel [which will be a first] represents a historic opportunity to accomplish two interconnected foreign-policy objectives. India will demonstrate to its Arab partners that a new era of Indo-Israeli relations is under way. And by establishing a new diplomatic status quo, Modi and the BJP will make it very challenging for the INC or any other political party to reverse it.

Read more at Tower

More about: India, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Israel-India relations

 

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy