Why India’s Prime Minister Visited Ramallah

Feb. 21 2018

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.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: India, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Palestinian Authority, Yasir Arafat

The Danger of Hollow Fixes to the Iran Deal

March 20 2018

In January, the Trump administration announced a 120-day deadline for the so-called “E3”—Britain, France, and Germany—to agree to solutions for certain specific flaws in the 2015 agreement to limit the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Omri Ceren explains why it’s necessary to get these fixes right:

[Already in October], the administration made clear that it considered the deal fatally flawed for at least three reasons: a weak inspections regime in which the UN’s nuclear watchdog can’t access Iranian military facilities, an unacceptable arrangement whereby the U.S. had to give up its most powerful sanctions against ballistic missiles even as Iran was allowed to develop ballistic missiles, and the fact that the deal’s eventual expiration dates mean Iran will legally be allowed to get within a hair’s breadth of a nuclear weapon. . . .

A team of American negotiators has been working on getting the E3 to agree to a range of fixes, and is testing whether there is overlap between the maximum that the Europeans can give and the minimum that President Trump will accept. The Europeans in turn are testing the Iranians to gauge their reactions and will likely not accept any fixes that would cause Iran to bolt.

The negotiations are problematic. The New York Times reported that, as far as the Europeans are concerned, the exercise requires convincing Trump they’ve “changed the deal without actually changing it.” Public reports about the inspection fix suggest that the Europeans are loath to go beyond urging the International Atomic Energy Commission to request inspections, which the agency may be too intimidated to do. The ballistic-missile fix is shaping up to be a political disaster, with the Europeans refusing to incorporate anything but long-range missiles in the deal. That would leave us with inadequate tools to counter Iran’s development of ballistic missiles that could be used to wipe Israel, the Saudis, and U.S. regional bases off the map. . . .

There is a [significant] risk the Trump administration may be pushed to accept the hollow fixes acceptable to the Europeans. Fixing the deal in this way would be the worst of all worlds. It would functionally enshrine the deal under a Republican administration. Iran would be open for business, and this time there would be certainty that a future president will not act to reverse the inevitable gold rush. Just as no deal would have been better than a bad deal, so no fix would be better than a bad fix.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Donald Trump, Europe, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy