India’s Balancing Act in a Complex Geopolitical Landscape
In a nuanced diplomatic maneuver, New Delhi has addressed the recent escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict while reaffirming its stance on the Israel-Palestine issue. This diplomatic tightrope walk involves striking a balance between various international interests and obligations.
Prime Minister Modi’s Initial Response
The tension began when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express his deep shock and convey solidarity with Israel in the face of “terrorist attacks.”
Nuanced Stance by MEA
Five days later, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued its first official statement regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict. Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson of the MEA, emphasized a “universal obligation to observe international humanitarian law” and the global responsibility to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
This statement subtly signals support for Israel, underscoring the commitment to fighting terrorism worldwide. Prime Minister Modi’s condemnation of terrorism, both in his tweets and during his conversation with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, aligns with this position.
Indian Stance on Israel-Palestine Conflict
India’s traditional stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict remains unwavering. The MEA reiterated India’s advocacy for the resumption of “direct negotiations” to establish a “sovereign, independent, and viable State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, side by side in peace with Israel.” This position underscores India’s commitment to a peaceful resolution to the longstanding conflict.
New Delhi’s diplomatic stance serves the interests of maintaining strategic partnerships, with Israel as a key ally and a presence in the Arab world. India navigates complex relationships with countries in the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Iran, and Egypt. These dynamics are further complicated by the presence of a substantial Indian diaspora and significant energy imports from the West Asia region.
Divisions in the Arab World
The recent Hamas attack has fractured the unity of the Arab world. The UAE and Bahrain, signatories of the US-brokered Abraham Accords with Israel, have criticized the attack, marking a rare departure from the typical unified Arab stance against Israel. Saudi Arabia has attempted to strike a balance in its statements, leaning toward Palestine without explicitly condemning Hamas. Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman have voiced criticism against Israel.
India’s diplomatic balancing act is reflective of the complexities and challenges faced when navigating international relations in a region marked by deep-rooted conflicts and divergent interests.