Need to review ties with Israel

M.L Sondhi
The Statesman, August 13, 1991

India must re-examine its attitude to Israel and upgrade its diplomatic relationship to ambassadorial level with that country, Professor M.L. Sondhi of the Jawaharlal Nehru University who is the convener of the just-established Sanskrit-Hebrew Society, said today.

The launching of the Society in India has been whole-heartedly welcomed by Mr. Yosef H. Ben-Aharon, Director-General of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office who also serves as the senior adviser on foreign policy affairs, and Dr. Shimon Avimor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Asia-Africa Research Unit, besides other Israeli scholars and members of Parliament.

Mr. Sondhi said in a statement today that raising of the diplomatic status from the present consulate to embassy level had become urgent because of the convening of the West Asia Peace Conference sponsored by the United States and the Soviet Union to be held in October.

This peace conference will have EEC and UN as observers and will be attended by Israel, Syria, Egypt, a joint Jordan-Palestine delegation and an observer representing the Gulf Cooperation Council.  Using the Security Council Resolutions numbers 242 and 338 as the basis, the conference will usher in direct negotiations between Israelis and Arabs through parallel talks between Israelis and the Arabs and Israelis and Palestinians to resolve all outstanding issues of the region.

The conference is being held in the context of the Arab willingness to reverse their earlier position and agree to direct negotiations.  Also, Syria has agreed to direct, unconditional negotiations with Israel.

Mr. Sondhi pointed out that to safeguard India’s political, economic and strategic interests, New Delhi must act quickly and the Prime Minister, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, should propose New Delhi as the venue of the conference to help the momentum towards peace.  It was not beyond the realm of possibility that Pakistan which is known for its agile diplomacy may give recognition to Israel and steal the show as the South Asian representative at the conference.

He said the conference would first, lay down the guidelines for peace in the region and secondly commence bilateral negotiations among the respective parties.  But there would also be a third phase which will revolve around regional issues such as water and environment.  Japan is making a serious bid to enter the third stage of the peace conference and might assume the leadership role for Asia.

Therefore, India which has historic relationship with West Asia will find itself out in the cold unless it takes “time by the forelock” and becomes a willing partner in the peace process.  “Out of mistaken considerations, if we hold on to an out of date policy, we will have none but ourselves to blame,” he added.

<< Back