Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Global Leaders Assemble for the Munich Security Conference

Asad Mirza

The Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2024 got underway in the background of the continued war in Palestine. Significantly, India’s external affairs minister made India’s position on Palestinian statehood clearer at the conference, besides holding talks with other global leaders.

Indian External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar has called for a ‘permanent fix’ to the Israel-Palestine conflict. In his speech at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2024, Jaishankar stated that a large number of nations, particularly those in the Global South, believe that terrorism shouldn't be justified

Though calling Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October, an act of terrorism, EAM Jaishankar said that Israel should have been “very mindful” of civilian casualties in its response and emphasised its “obligation to observe international humanitarian law.”

He also outlined key dimensions of the Israel-Palestine conflict so as to have a long term and a permanent solution to the issue.

Jaishankar’s latest speech stresses two points that India, as the PM noted in his first reaction, after the 7 October attacks, emphasises that the Hamas’ attacks were a “terrorist attack”, yet it has further reiterated its age-old stand that the solution to the Palestinian issue, could be found only through a two stage solution.

However, the outlines of any such “two state solution” is yet to be defined and by the time the international comity agrees to those parameters, a lot of innocent Palestinians would have been killed in the on-going Israeli attacks.

What is of paramount importance here is an immediate cessation of hostilities by the IDF, and an ensured flow of humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians.

In his speech EAM, also praised the efforts by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, but Blinken on his part said that the US is committed to Israel's security and supports the proposition that Israel has to find ways to ensure that whatever happened on 7 October “never happens again.” This underlies the continued American support to the Bibi regime in Israel and till the time this monetary and military support is not halted by the US, signs of the war ending immediately are very slim.

In his speech, Jaishankar also stated that a large number of nations, particularly those in the Global South, believe that terrorism shouldn't be justified. He said that these nations believe a two-state solution should not be delayed.

"I think a very large number of countries, especially those in the Global South, believe that terrorism shouldn't be countenanced or justified. But they equally strongly believe that a two-state solution should not be delayed. These are not choices. These are both musts. And unless we are able to address both these issues, we are not going to really solve the problem," EAM said.

At the conference, Jaishankar also met with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and discussed the West Asia situation and the strategic partnership between India and Saudi Arabia.

Notably, India and Saudi Arabia share centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties. Economic ties are an important aspect of the bilateral strategic partnership between two nations, according to the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia.

If however, India and Saudi Arabia share the same page on the Palestinian issue, then it seems plausible that the war may end soon in Palestine. As Saudi is one of the prominent Middle Eastern nations, who are pursuing diplomatic efforts to get the conflict, ended as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Russia has invited various Palestinian factions to meet in Moscow on 26 February, the Palestinian Authority prime minister said on Sunday, adding that the PA was ready to engage with Hamas.

“Russia has invited all Palestinian factions who will be meeting on the 26 of this month in Moscow. We will see if Hamas is ready to come to the ground with us” Mohammad Shtayyeh told the Munich Security Conference.

“We are ready to engage. If Hamas is not then that’s a different story. We need Palestinian unity,” he said, adding that to be part of that unity Hamas needed to meet certain prerequisites.

The Russian initiative has come rather as a surprise to the western world, but it should not be marred by any indifference. As far as the question of Hamas participating at the 26 February meeting is considered, Russia may take help of its crucial ally Iran to influence the Hamas leadership to sit at the same table as other Palestinian factions and hammer out a long-term stand and policy for an earliest solution to the long running conflict.

At an interactive session at the security conference with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Jaishankar also delved on the question of India’s alignment on non-alignment with Russia and the US.

When asked about the country's foreign policy priorities in the backdrop of observations that it is traversing from “non-alignment to all alignment” and its continued procurement of crude oil from Russia notwithstanding Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Jaishankar asserted that India should not be criticised for having multiple options.

"Why should it be a problem? I am smart enough to have multiple options. You should be admiring and not criticising. Is it a problem for others? I do not think so," he said.
This is not the first time that the EAM has forcefully put across India’s stand on its continued economic ties with Russia and the two state solution to the Palestinian issue. Rather it should be seen in the new paradigm shift of the global geopolitics, where India, once being a champion of non-alignment has been able to maintain ties with different ideologies based on its own interpretation and understanding of the issues, rather than being tutored by either super power.

(Asad Mirza is a Delhi-based senior political and international affairs commentator.)

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