From the past few months, the attention has been shifted from the Russia Ukraine war to the long drawn Israel Palestine conflict. This posed a shift from taking sides in a war to being in favor of Israel, its theory of survival and Hamas, Palestine, and the theory of occupation. This puts India in a situation of fish bone stuck in its throat - can’t spit it, can’t swallow it. But first let’s discuss the history of this conflict.
History of Jerusalem:
This place has always been a place of conflict throughout history. In the 4th millennium BC, the Cannanites lived there. They were pagans and worshiped idols. They were evicted from their land by King David in 1000 BCE. His son Solomon built the first temple for Jews.
In 586 BCE, the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar II, destroyed Solomon's Temple and exiled the Jewish population. This was the second exile from the land, as first was the exile of Cannanites. After Alexander's influence in the region promoting Hellenistic culture, the Seleucids controlled the region. Under Seleucids in 2nd century BCE, there was a revolt by the Jews and the first return happened, the temple was resurrected.
Roman Rule in Jerusalem:
In 63 BCE, Pompey the Great conquered Jerusalem, marking the start of Roman rule. The Roman client-king Herod the Great expanded and renovated the Second Temple. The First Jewish-Roman War (66–73 CE) resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–136 CE) led to further devastation and the construction of Aelia Capitolina by the Romans. With the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, Jerusalem became a center of Christianity, and many churches were built. In 638 CE, the Rashidun Caliphate captured Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque were constructed on the Temple Mount during the Umayyad rule.
The Period of Crusades:
Then came the period of Crusades. In 1099 AD, the first capture of Jerusalem happened and Christians gained the control of Jerusalem. But it was again captured by Salahuddin Ayubi or Saladin in 1187 AD. Jerusalem changed hands between various Islamic empires, including the Mamluks and the Ottomans, during the medieval and early modern periods.
During World War I, in November 1917, the British government, under Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, issued the Balfour Declaration. The declaration expressed support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine. After World War I and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations granted Britain the mandate to administer Palestine. This mandate was authorized by the League of Nations in 1920, and it officially came into effect in 1923. The mandate aimed to implement the principles outlined in the Balfour Declaration also securing the rights of non Jewish residents.
The British mandate faced challenges from the Jewish and the Arab communities. In 1947, the UN proposed a partition plan for Jews and Arab population. In 1948, the State of Israel was declared, leading to a war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The British withdrew from Palestine, and Israel emerged as an independent state. Then in 1967, 6 days war happened, Israel and a group of Jordan, Egypt, and Syria. Israel asserted complete authority. From then the turmoil still continues.
From Independence, India aligned with the cause of Palestinians because of Gandhian opposition to the establishment of Jewish state. The Arab state consensus, the tilt towards USSR which supported Palestine also led India to voice for Palestine. India voted against the partition plan in the UN.
After the fall of the USSR, India established a formal diplomatic relationship with Israel and from then the ties grew manifold regarding security and defense. It was only after the mediation of the US, in the 1991 Madrid Peace conference a two-state solution was agreed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
At the same time, India kept voicing for the Palestine cause and increased cooperation with the Arab states on trade and most important energy security. India now balances Israel's right to defense but also opposes the unilateral changes and bombings done by Israel on the Palestinian civilians.It is becoming very hard to balance the sword that is double edged. India's official position on the Israel-Palestine conflict remains unchanged, advocating for a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine as good neighbors.