For the second time in a few weeks, India has abstained at the United Nations instead of voting on an Israel-related resolution. On July 3, 2015 India abstained from weighing in on a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel for 2014 Gaza conflict. The anti-Israel resolution passed with 47 votes in favour, with the US opposing, and India amongst 5 nations abstaining. Then on Monday, Israel unsuccessfully tried to table a resolution to challenge the official recognition of Hamas-linked NGO in the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

It is fair to ask: why abstain? Israel is one of India’s leading defense partners, and an emerging trade partner. But considering the fact that until recently India was referred to as the “23rd Arab state” for siding with Arab-block on every anti-Israel resolution at the UN, this is a huge diplomatic shift for the world’s largest democracy.

Since India normalized diplomatic ties with the Jewish State in 1991, Israel has become India’s partner of choice when it comes modernizing the country’s military capabilities. The government is collaborating with Israel in agriculture, water management, and renewable and clean technologies; and India’s technology-driven IT giants have made significant investments in Israel’s innovation and startup ecosystem.

For decades, political commentators in India have questioned the wisdom and morality of unconditionally backing a movement that uses terror tactics against a fellow democracy to achieve political ends—-especially when year after year, thousands of Indians are slaughtered by Islamist terrorists. Contrary to the diplomatic posturing, Hindu-majority India’s public opinion has always been overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. Last year, with the devastating defeat of India’s “Congress Party” (the architects of the socialist planned economy who ruled the country for much of the period since independence from Britain in 1947) India’s unconditional support for the “Palestinian cause” has now finally come to an end.

The Palestinian Authority has always taken India’s support at the UN for granted; now, they are shocked and angry at India’s diplomatic shift.

Earlier this month, the Jerusalem Post reported PA envoy Adnan Abu Alhaija’s reaction to India’s stand at the UN:

The Palestinian Authority was “shocked” at India’s abstention on an anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN Human Right’s Council, the PA’s ambassador to India said (..), recalling the days when Yasser Arafat used to call the country’s former premier Indira Gandhi “his sister.”

Indian newspaper The Hindu reported further:

Palestinian Ambassador to India, Adnan Abu Alhaija, said (…) “We were shocked (…) “We will still like to believe that this incident is merely an aberration and doesn’t reflect India’s diplomatic history and its desire to help the oppressed people of the world. We will still like to believe that this is a one-off incident and not a trend.”

Those hopes have now been dashed.

The change in India’s attitude is mainly attributed to country’s 14 months-old Center-Right BJP government, but much of the credit should go to the personal rapport India’s Prime Minster Narendra Modi enjoys with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. Both leaders met in New York on May 28, 2014, and Prime Minister Modi is expected to visit Israel later this year.

The Palestinian Authority’s envoy has issued a veiled warning that a pro-Israel stand at the UN could cost India the coveted permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)-–something India has wanted for decades. He argues that India’s vote could “confuse” supporters of its UNSC bid.

Despite the theatrics of threats and emotional blackmails, Prime Minister Modi can depend on the broad support of the Indian public and his own political base, as he steers India closer to Israel.

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