The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, escalated by Hamas’ terrorist attacks, has shocked the world and raised concerns about its global implications. One country that is keenly observing these developments is India.
Historically, India has maintained a delicate balance between supporting Palestine’s cause and fostering strategic ties with Israel. Given recent events, India finds itself at a diplomatic crossroads, carefully navigating the situation’s complexities. The question that emerges is how India is impacted by the India-Palestine war.
India’s relationship with Israel and Palestine has significantly shifted over the decades. Despite being one of the last non-Muslim states to recognize Israel in 1950, India established robust ties with Palestine, recognizing the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. However, in the 1990s, India gradually began cultivating closer ties with Israel, particularly in defence cooperation, technology, and agriculture.
India established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 due to common strategic interests and security threats. Israel is India’s second-largest supplier of military equipment after Russia; approximately 42.1% of all Israeli arms exports are received by India. From 1999 to 2009, military business between the two countries was worth around US$9 billion.
Their strategic ties extend to joint military training as well as intelligence-sharing on the activity of various terrorist groups. Israel has also helped India during times of crisis and war. For instance,
- In 1962, during the Indo-China war, and in 1965, during the Indo-Pak war, Israel helped India with arms and ammunition.
- In 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, Israel provided humanitarian assistance to thousands of Indian workers stranded in Kuwait.
- In 1999, during the Kargil War, Israel supplied India with target bombs that helped it win the war against Pakistan.
The conflict’s immediate economic impact on India revolves around trade relations. India’s trade with Israel, valued at approximately $10.7 billion in FY23, primarily involves critical items such as defence equipment, machinery, electronics, and chemicals.
Israel is India’s seventh-largest trading partner, with more than a billion dollars’ worth of trade between the two countries. This will be affected. The global stock market has already started to crumble, and India was also affected by this, with investors losing 8,000 crores in a single trading session.
Any disruptions in trade routes, primarily through critical ports like Haifa, Ashdod, and Eilat, could significantly affect India’s economy. Moreover, the escalation of the conflict might lead to increased oil prices, further straining India’s economy, which heavily relies on oil imports.
India’s diplomatic stance has always favored a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expressions of solidarity with Israel have been explicit, yet India maintains its support for the Palestinian cause. With the potential involvement of other Arab nations and the risk of regional destabilization, India faces the challenge of balancing its strategic interests with its diplomatic principles. The delicate balance between these conflicting interests requires India to tread cautiously in the international arena.
India’s stance is not only influenced by economic and diplomatic factors but also by regional geopolitical considerations. The involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in the conflict directly threatens India’s energy supply, economic stability, and the welfare of Indian expatriates in the region. The possibility of a prolonged conflict leading to higher crude oil prices and disruptions in sea routes further complicates India’s strategic calculus.
India’s latest achievement at the G20, the India-Middle East-Europe corridor, will also be affected, as Israel was supposed to play a significant role in this initiative. So, while India supports Israel, if the war continues for an extended period, India will pay a heavy price.
The Way Forward
India’s response to the Israel-Palestine conflict by condemning Hamas’ terrorist attacks while expressing solidarity with Israel underscores its commitment to fighting terrorism globally. India’s strategic interests, economic stability, and diplomatic principles necessitate a nuanced approach. As the situation unfolds, India must continue its diplomatic efforts to promote peace in the region while safeguarding its economic interests.
In conclusion, India finds itself in a challenging position amid the escalating Israel-Palestine conflict. Striking a delicate balance between diplomatic principles, economic stability, and regional security concerns is crucial. India’s ability to navigate these complexities will shape its role in the evolving Middle Eastern landscape, emphasizing the need for a pragmatic and strategic approach to international relations in these tumultuous times.