India Bridging The ‘Gulf’

After Narendra Modi’s recent trip to Israel (the first by an Indian PM), seasoned politician and former diplomat Shashi Tharoor lauded the visit, saying that the relationship between India and Israel reached “a level of maturity”. He also said that India’s relationship with Israel should not be at the expense of the former’s ties with Palestine.
“Very important relationship which I believe India needs to sustain, while at the same time making sure it’s not at the expense of our traditional loyalty and ties with Palestinians and the Palestinian cause,” stressed Tharoor while commenting on the PM’s visit to Israel.

Perhaps, the Modi government in India has realised the essence of the opposition leader’s statement. So, New Delhi has decided to bridge the ‘gulf’ with West Asia after the Modi-Netanyahu bonhomie in Jerusalem, with the External Affairs Ministry planning to launch a website in ‘Arabic’ language.
A senior ministry official has admitted that it becomes difficult for India to balance its ties with Israel and the Arab world (especially Palestine). The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said a couple of days ago that the proposed move is aimed at strengthening ties with West Asia. He explained that the site would have articles written in Arabic on India and its foreign policy, along with speeches, briefings and other documents.
Foreign policy experts have welcomed the Indian ministry’s decision, saying that New Delhi should reach out to the Arab world and clear every aspect of India-Israel ties. India has always maintained cordial ties with West Asian nations because of various reasons. And the most important one is economic reason. The South Asian country is dependent on Gulf nations for energy security and more than eight million Indians work in those countries.

Also, India is well aware of the fact that West Asian nations have been traditionally suspicious of Israel. With the ongoing Qatar-Gulf crisis creating a rare opportunity for Israel to ‘normalise’ ties with Saudi Arabia, it is the ideal time for India to inform the Arab world that it needs the Jewish state’s support to tackle the growing threat of terrorism (sponsored by a neighbouring country).

In fact, Prime Minister Modi knows the importance of India’s ties with Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Gulf nations. That’s why he visited the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and also hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of his visit to Israel. Diplomacy cannot be a “zero sum game”.

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