In the past few years, relations between Israel and India have grown increasingly warm, a fact for which the countries’ respective prime ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi, can take substantial credit. Nonetheless, Modi paid a visit to Ramallah on February 10, where he described Yasir Arafat as a “friend of the Indian people.” Vinay Kaura sees in the visit not any evidence of wavering commitment to the alliance with Israel but a new approach to relations with the Palestinians that he terms “de-hyphenation” and which he believes will ultimately benefit the Jewish state:
De-hyphenation of “Israel-Palestine” is a politically shrewd strategy: rather than treating the two entities as one unit, the Modi government has decided to pursue independent relationships with each, thereby giving India greater maneuvering space to maintain the image of continuing to provide moral support for the Palestinian cause while simultaneously engaging in a military and strategic partnership with the Jewish state. That is why Modi did not go to Israel during this landmark visit [to Ramallah]. Last year, he became the first Indian prime minister to come to Israel on a standalone visit—but chose not to travel to Ramallah. . . . .
India has come a long way in forming a strategic partnership with Israel. Before and after India’s independence, prominent nationalist figures viewed Jewish aspirations for a national home in Palestine through an anti-imperialist prism. It was felt that the Zionists were relying on imperialist powers to establish a theocratic state at the expense of the Palestinians. . . .
Contrary to what is often erroneously believed, India’s support for the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not been wholly dictated by considerations of domestic politics—i.e., its perceived reluctance to alienate its considerable Muslim minority. New Delhi’s Palestinian policy has also been a critical component of India’s energy diplomacy with oil-rich Gulf countries and India’s Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, as well as for ensuring the safety of the Indian diaspora in the Gulf countries.
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