Israel faces global ire, but India quiet
Israel drew widespread international condemnation when on Monday its soldiers fired live ammunition into the Palestinian territory of Gaza on tens of thousands of unarmed civilians protesting against the shifting of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and its inauguration in the holy city on that day, killing at least 60 of them. Making the inauguration surreal, the cold-blooded massacre proceeded even as festivities were on at the inaugural, with US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, a White House adviser, in attendance.
Inappropriately, in view of the killings not too far away, Mr Kushner said in public remarks that the protesters were “a part of the problem, not a part of the solution”.
In addition to the protesters’ deaths as the US embassy was being opened in Jerusalem, which is a pilgrimage centre equally for Jews, Christians and Muslims, another 50 or so Palestinians have been killed as they mounted peaceful protests against the shifting of the US embassy for nearly a month. Thousands have been injured, including women and children.
Such brutality by the Israeli Defence Forces has not been seen since 2014, and fears are being expressed internationally that these events will close any chance of the long-stalled Israel-Palestine peace talks from opening for a long time to come since the US under President Donald Trump is not seen as an honest broker by the Palestinians and even by Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the US. Among the sharpest to condemn the recent massacre has been Britain, another strong, traditional ally of Washington.
Since the creation of Israel by the Western powers inside Palestine in 1948, the Palestinians have regarded East Jerusalem as their future capital. After seizing the West Bank in the course of the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has completely controlled the area, practically imprisoning the Palestinians living in it, and has established lakhs of Jewish settlers there. These settlements have been deemed “illegal” under a series of UN resolutions.
In the peace negotiations over the years, the international community has recognised the Palestinian aspiration of having East Jerusalem as their capital. Apart from the Muslim holy site angle, some seven lakh Palestinians were forced to migrate from the Jerusalem area to their present locations. It is their remnants and descendants that chiefly populate the West Bank. The “right of return” is among the key demands of the Palestinian people in any discussion related to peace.
New Delhi’s silence on Monday’s killings is noteworthy in light of the fact that from the time of the creation of Israel, India has been an active proponent of the creation of a full-fledged state of Palestine and the right of Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity.