India’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict underscores its commitment to pursuing a political resolution and enduring peace in the West Asia region.

The prioritization of peace in West Asia holds significance for India due to the region’s importance in fulfilling India’s energy needs, particularly for crude oil and natural gas. Additionally, the area serves as a vital trade and strategic partner for India. The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, now in its seventh week, raises concerns about potential escalation and destabilization throughout West Asia.

During the recent annual 2+2 dialogue between the defense and foreign ministers of India and the United States in Delhi, both countries expressed apprehensions about the conflict’s potential repercussions. The joint statement issued at the end of the dialogue affirmed support for Israel against Hamas terrorism. Simultaneously, it emphasized the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law, especially regarding the protection of civilians. The objectives outlined in the statement included preventing the spread of the conflict, maintaining stability in the Middle East, and actively working toward a political solution and durable peace.

India’s historical ties with West Asian countries, dating back to the post-Independence period, have been marked by diplomatic relations and cooperation. The recent efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have significantly strengthened India’s ties with West Asian nations. Modi’s approach, encapsulated in the slogan “Bharat ki baat, sabke saath” (India’s engagement will be with everybody), has contributed to India’s enhanced diplomatic standing in the region.

Notably, Modi’s de-hyphenation strategy has granted India strategic autonomy, enabling bilateral engagements with multiple West Asian countries. This approach contrasts with historical challenges posed by Pakistan’s involvement in the region, suspected support for Islamic fundamentalism, and the presence of wanted terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim.

In the last decade, Prime Minister Modi’s proactive diplomacy has led to improved relations with West Asian countries, including prominent leaders such as Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE and Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. India’s engagement with West Asia has evolved beyond historical constraints, with Modi’s emphasis on cooperation with Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

India’s current status as the largest trade partner with West Asia, with a two-way trade volume of $150 billion, highlights the success of its diplomatic endeavors. The UAE and Saudi Arabia, in particular, have emerged as significant partners in strategic and counter-terrorism cooperation. India’s presence in regional forums, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reflects its growing importance, as seen in the 2019 summit where Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj was invited as the Guest of Honour.

Overall, India’s approach to West Asia emphasizes diplomatic inclusivity, economic collaboration, and strategic partnerships, reflecting its commitment to regional peace and stability.

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