But New Delhi has been conspicuous by its discretion since the war between Israel and Hamas began. Narendra Modi spoke to Benjamin Netanyahu on phone on October 10 and, among other things, condemned.Terrorism in all its forms”. On the 19th, he called on Mahmud Abbas and promised humanitarian aid, which was sent three days later. But New Delhi took no steps to de-escalate or release the hostages.
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Inaction on both sides
“Since the start of the war in Ukraine, India has expressed its desire for a ceasefire, but this time it is not.”, notes Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington DC. This inaction is quite surprising because, at first glance, the country is well positioned to converse with the two actors. He maintains good relations with Israelis and Palestinians.
India”It has always called for the resumption of negotiations to establish a sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian state that enjoys recognized, secure borders and is at peace with Israel.”, announced the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 12. Additionally, New Delhi does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization. “India continues to refuse to support US resolutions at the UN to label Hamas”, points out Nicolas Blair, Professor of International Relations at Leiden University.
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This has not stopped New Delhi from getting closer to Israel for thirty years. Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the country in 2017. Both the states have a strategic partnership. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India buys 37% of Israel’s arms exports. Bilateral trade has doubled in five years to reach $10.7 billion last year.
More connected to Israel
For some time now, the rapprochement between Jerusalem and New Delhi has been strengthening to the detriment of the Palestinian cause, with the announcement at the G20 summit of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor via Saudi Arabia and Israel. “India had a good relationship between Israel and Saudi”, explains Nicolas Plerel. However, this rapprochement is a red line for Hamas. “India’s October 12 declaration of a Palestinian state is a reminder of its historical posture and rhetoric linked to the Global South. This is not a strong belief. Modi government is very friendly with Israel”, adds Nicholas Flarrell.
Comment shared by Michael Kugelman: “India sees the conflict as a fight against terrorism. And there is never a ceasefire in counter-terrorism operations”. On October 27, India abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza: the text did not explicitly condemn the October 7 attacks.
This posture illustrates the so-called “India first” diplomacy. Modi’s statements about India’s concern for global harmony mask a strategy that prioritizes national interests. Indian power avoids ties with Hamas to protect its partnership with Israel, but also preserves its relationship with oil-supplying Gulf states Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Michael Kugelman Finally Remembers India “It is reluctant to play mediator because it itself opposes any mediation with its neighbours, especially on the Kashmir issue.”.
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