Narendra Modi’s leadership has marked a significant shift in India’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. While previous governments maintained a neutral position, offering support to both sides, Modi has taken a decidedly pro-Israel approach. This has raised questions about whether he has abandoned India’s traditionally balanced foreign policy and what implications this shift may have for the region.
Factors Contributing to India’s Pro-Israel Stance
Several factors have contributed to India’s growing closeness to Israel under Modi. One key driver is the convergence of interests between the two countries. Both face common threats from terrorism and share concerns about the rise of Islamic radicalism. Additionally, Israel has emerged as a major supplier of defense equipment to India, playing a crucial role in modernizing the Indian military.
Modi’s Public Support for Israel
Modi’s personal relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has further strengthened bilateral ties. Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in 2017, and Netanyahu reciprocated the visit in 2018. This high-level interaction has been instrumental in fostering closer cooperation between the two nations.
Moreover, Modi has publicly expressed his support for Israel on numerous occasions. Notably, during the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in May 2023, Modi condemned the Hamas attacks and offered solidarity with Israel. This marked a stark departure from India’s traditional position of calling for restraint from both sides.
Implications and Domestic Reactions
While India’s pro-Israel stance has been welcomed by the Israeli government, it has caused concern among some sections of Indian society. Critics argue that Modi’s approach undermines India’s long-standing commitment to the Palestinian cause and weakens its diplomatic leverage in the region.
Despite these criticisms, Modi’s pro-Israel policy appears to enjoy considerable support among the Indian public. This is likely due to a growing perception that Israel is a reliable ally in an increasingly uncertain world. Additionally, the Hindu nationalist ideology of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has traditionally viewed Israel as a model religious-nationalist state, further bolstering popular support for closer ties.
Narendra Modi’s pro-Israel stance represents a significant shift in India’s foreign policy. While strategic interests and personal relationships have played a key role in this move, it has also been influenced by domestic political considerations and the broader ideological framework of the BJP. Only time will tell how this shift will impact India’s role in the Middle East and its relationship with other key players in the region.