Israel-Palestine ceasefire: lessons for South Asia
There are two ways of thinking about the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which has turned into war. First, how countries succeeded or failed to assert their role in bringing about the ceasefire on May 21, and what are the lessons for countries in the region struggling to emerge from their own complexities. Most importantly, he highlighted that ignoring hot spots for a long time reignites conflict that tempers the people and the place.
At first glance, Pakistan appears to be very active, at least in its own eyes and words, in highlighting the violence that erupted in Jerusalem after the forced eviction by the Israelis of Palestinian families who had lived there for decades. Islamabad has been vocal and vocal in several places about its concerns on the issue and has tried to mobilize the support of the OIC to take a stand. This is fair enough.
Pakistan had to do it. The compulsions were obvious. The OIC had been immune to its calls to convene a special session on Kashmir after August 5, 2019, changes that severed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its statehood in the Indian union. The OIC has turned its back on Pakistan. It was a resounding rebuff from Pakistan, and its attempts to censor Saudi Arabia and other prominent countries in the grouping for not doing so backfired. Saudi Arabia was not having fun. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had deteriorated to such an extent that both were seen on both sides of the fence in the Islamic world.
The Palestinian question was an opportunity for Pakistan and it used it to regain its credibility in the Islamic bloc led by Saudi Arabia. He needs Saudi Arabia as Pakistani expatriates in the Kingdom send billions of dollars to Pakistan. It is its main source of economy, can not ignore its interests there. He had also seen that any confrontation with the Kingdom resulted in isolation. Thus, he signaled the question of Palestine to rehabilitate in the Islamic world.
This became clearer when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation on the evening of May 21, hours after the U.S.-brokered ceasefire took effect, Egypt. and many other countries. He insisted that Pakistan had made strenuous efforts to establish the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians without admitting that it was right on one side of the fence and had no good willingness to take advantage of the Israelis. There was nothing more to claim for Imran Khan, however, because he did not address what the real-time solution requires. He did not pronounce the two-state solution. Even if the term died because the international community recognized the fact that the Israeli government and the Palestinians had a different idea of two states living side by side. The most controversial was the claim to Jerusalem, where the holy places of Jews and Muslims are located. There was a massive shake-up during the Trump era that recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017, giving Israel a free hand to move forward with its larger plans in the square. Whether there have been anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian protests on the streets of cities across the United States and also in London, the British capital, should not be taken as something that would be a permanent feature. So many issues were at stake – the killing of children in the Israeli bombing raids in Gaza, the area controlled by the militant group Hamas, and the overall legitimacy that guns, bombs and rockets were gaining in the Middle East. Protests should not be overstated.
India, the most important country in the South Asia region, has had to face different realities; he had a traditional position where he had always supported the Palestinians for national reasons and also because of his leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement, now forgotten in modern international history. Something changed in 2014 after BJP rose to power. The BJP has always had a soft spot for Israel and it was all about strengthening India’s relations with Israel. Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in July 2017. Defense cooperation between the two has intensified over all these years.
In fact, the Israelis shared their techniques, technology and weaponry in dealing with armed militancy and military cantonment fences that had started long before the BJP came to power at the Center. But the Modi government’s position was not a balancing act. He took a principled stance that the status quo should be maintained, which was not to the liking of the Israeli government which had perhaps hoped for a stronger tilt in its favor.
Now come the real lessons that South Asia can learn. The international community is guided by its interests. He is not taking sides, therefore, it is imperative for Afghanistan to settle its problems without expecting much except for financial aid from the United States and other countries. India and Pakistan should approach their own issues bilaterally and build on the Line of Control ceasefire through direct talks. There is no point in stepping away from the thorny issues, and Pakistan should also understand that unless the territory of Kashmir under its control comes into discussion at the table, nothing can be fairly discussed. There is no alternative available.