BRIGADIER RAJIV MAHANA
On December 29, 2022,Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest serving Prime Minister of the country, formed the most rightwing and religiously conservative government in the history of Israel.Thisevent is not a storm in the teacup because thegovernmentis committed to implement policies which may unleash strong winds of change across both, regional and domestic landscapes.Ruling coalitionconsists of six parties, Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, Religious Zionist Party, Otzma Yehudit, and Noam.
The government has been formed after the Right oriented Likud party of the Netanyahu reachedfar right and ultra-orthodox agreements with other members of the coalition. While many aspects of the governance guidelines like change in judicial and education systems, citizenship clauses and support for orthodox religion system are absolutely the internal matters of the Israel, certain intents concerning Palestine whichform part of these agreements are bound toimpact the security and geopolitics of the region. And such policies may also have second degree effects on Indian diplomatic activities in West Asia.
The coalition agreements state that “the Jewish people have an exclusive right on all the land” between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.Ben-Gvir is the Minister of National Security in the new government. Manifesto of Otzma Yehudit, Ben-Gvir’s party emphasises about“the establishment of sovereignty over all parts of Eretz Israel liberated in the six-day war and the settlement of the enemies of Israel in the Arab lands that surround our small country”.
All the actions which have been taken by the Netanyahu government so far, indicate that the space for two-state solution to the Palestine problem is shrinking. Apriority on the agenda of the Religious Zionist Party, which is part of the government, is the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for the reconstruction of the Temple Mount as it used to exist in biblical times.Status of the Haram Al-Sharif complex, the location of this mosque,isthat while Israel considers itself the sovereign over all of Jerusalem,Haram Al-Sharif is administered through the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf,appointed, and financed by Jordan.Currently a ‘status quo’understanding is maintained in this complex which allows the Jews to visit the site at certain times, without conducting any prayers at that location.
Ben-Gvir’s visit to this site on January 3reignited the controversy and United Arab Emirates, an ally of Israel since theAbraham Accord of 2020,referred the matter to the UN Security Council. Though his visit had not altered the ‘status quo’ in any manner, it brought to focus the debate on the freedom of religion issue since he explained the event as an action to counter the “discrimination of Jews on Temple Mount”.
The Abraham Accordsare the agreements of peace, diplomatic relations, and full normalisation of the relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, and Kosovo. India which shares extensive relationship with Israeland many other countries in West Asia reaped reasonable geopolitical advantage due to these accords. It was unshackled from the burdens of maintaining delicate balance between the relations with Israel and Arab Friends, since ‘us or them’ binary was removed after Abraham accords. Last year India formed I2U2 grouping with Israel, U.S., and UAE.For India, peaceful relations amongst Israel and Arab countries are important. It is not the ‘era of conflict’ in any part of the world.
Signing off for the week, by quoting Albert Einstein,“It would be my greatest sadness to see Zionists (Jews) do to Palestinian Arabs much of what Nazis did to Jews”
[Brigadier Rajiv Mahna YSM, SM, VSM is an Indian Army Veteran who has chosen to remain a student for the lifetime.]
….. see next page for We Said It
“We Said It”
- Recently, Abdul Rehman Makki of LeT has been designated as global terrorist by the UNSC.
- Suggestion for Indian Government to continue pushing for such outcome despite Chinese resistancewas discussed in the article titled; ‘Pakistan Terrorism and FATF’ published in ‘Beyond Boundaries’ column on 31st October 2022.