The contested city of Jerusalem : City of peace or city of conflict ?

Daryal Rocko Anal
Contd from previous issue
Today, India supports Two-State Solution Policy recognising that both Israel and Palestine have right to Statehood. India maintains cordial relationship with both Israel and Palestine.  It is to be noted that India’s relationship with Israel has grown over the years from informal diplomacy to formal diplomacy, military and counter-terrorism, space, economic, agriculture, tourism etc. while its relationships with Palestine has been guided by consideration of its domestic political consideration (India‘s large Muslim populations), oil and energy needs, large Indian diaspora and workers in West Asia, Indo-Pak crisis, maintaining cordial relationship with Arab/Muslim Nations, support for its bid for UNSC permanent seat etc. Notably, Indian PM Narendra Modi became the first sitting PM of India to officially visit Israel in 2017 and Palestine in 2018. India and Israel elevated their relationship to strategic relationship in 2017. Today, India is a major buyer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the third-largest arms supplier to India after Russia and France.
In the 15-member UNSC meeting on the recent Israel-Palestine crisis held on 16th May 2021, India as non-permanent member (2021-2022) of the UN Security Council, issued its statement calling for immediate de-escalation of the situation between Israel and Palestine, condemning both sides for the use of violence, refrain from attempts to unilaterally change the existing status-quo including East Jerusalem and its neighbourhood effort, and called for creation of conducive atmosphere for talks, supports the efforts of Quartet (UN, USA, EU, Russia) and others in the international community and also reaffirms its strong support to the “just Palestinian cause” and its “unwavering” support for two-state solution i.e. both Israel and Palestine have right to Statehood.
The ongoing conflict has resulted into loss of many lives and properties, casualties, sufferings from both sides. Wars have been fought and re-fought. Today, Israel has powerful military force. Israel is believed to possess nuclear weapons though it has never acknowledged officially. It fights for survival as Palestine fights for their land. And as the issue of Jerusalem is not just issue between Israel and Palestine but also of between Israel and Arab world, untimely check of any surge in the crisis can have spill-over effect to regional conflicts or beyond. In nutshell, annexation of East Jerusalem, eviction of Palestinians from their settlement resulting into mass refugees and planting of Jewish settlement in occupied territories of Palestine by Israel from the perspective of Palestine and the right to exist as Nation and also to defence itself, terrorist attacks and rockets firing on Israel from the perspective of Israel has been the main source of conflicts between Israel and Palestine. At the same time, some radical right groups in Israel not supporting establishment of Palestine State and some Palestine and Arab radical right groups calling to expel or annihilate Jews from West Asia (not recognising the Jews State) besides involvement of vested outside actors has added fuel to the crisis. All actors, whether they are Western or Arab/Muslim Nations, have their own political, strategic and economic interest in their cause to support or champion the issue in West Asia. Current domestic political instability in Israel as well as Palestine adds to the crisis. Whatever may be the reasons, arguments or interests, it has been the civilians on both sides that have been bearing the major brunt of the violence. It is unfortunate to see the Holy City of Jerusalem, revered by the three great Abrahamic religions and where thousands of followers with emotional and spiritual attachment from all over the world visits as pilgrimage, is in turmoil once again. Has Jerusalem the City of Peace become not just a contested city but also a city of conflicts ? When shall peace return to the city of peace ?

The writer is Assistant Professor, Dept. of Political Science, DM College of Arts, Imphal. Email: [email protected]