Nothing is permanent in international relations; alliances are constantly shifting and relationships between states are made and broken. The current global scenario is no different.

Amidst the tumult in global affairs, the Indo-Israeli relationship has emerged as a steady bilateral alliance, surprising to some, while others have been watching the ties between Tel Aviv and New Delhi grow over the decades.

Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Israel seems to have cemented this alliance, as the warm embrace between the Indian premier and Benjamin Netanyahu on the tarmac of Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday showed. However, the visit has sparked an interesting reaction from Iran, which has enjoyed cordial relations with India, but is at daggers drawn with the Zionist state.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday called for support for the “oppressed Muslims in India-held Kashmir”; he also referred to Kashmir in his Eid sermon. There is little doubt Ayatollah Khamenei’s response has been triggered by the growing bonhomie between Israel and India.

The Indians have come far from their past policy under Congress’s watch regarding Israel/Palestine. India only established relations with Israel in 1992, while late PLO chief Yasser Arafat enjoyed great rapport with Indira Gandhi, calling her his ‘sister’. Clearly, those days of mutual support are gone and Mr Modi has no love lost for the Palestinians; it was reported that a meeting with Palestinian leaders was not on the cards during his visit.

While the comparison would be anathema to New Delhi, there is a clear parallel between Israel’s atrocious behaviour towards the Palestinians, and the brute force India has unleashed upon the Kashmiris. Despite the passage of several decades since these crises emerged, both Palestinians and Kashmiris have continued to be subjected to state oppression on their own land and have been denied the freedom and dignity they desire.

Both right-wing governments in Tel Aviv and Delhi seem to be sharing notes on how to keep these restive populations in check, with the Israelis stifling Gaza and the Indians using the jackboot to crush the Kashmiris.

Perhaps the Indo-Israeli embrace has provided an opportunity for Pakistan to highlight the Kashmir issue with Iran and others, in order to build world opinion against the atrocities unleashed upon both the Kashmiris and Palestinians.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2017

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