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I’ve Raised the Issue of Palestine at Every Platform and will Continue to Do So: KC Tyagi

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Israel’s ambition and aggression is the biggest hurdle against the formula of the two-nation theory. Donald Trump in his time period aggravated the situation further.

KC TYAGI is a senior leader and Chief Spokesperson and Advisor of Janata Dal(U). He was a Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha (2013–2016), and member of the Lok Sabha (1989–1991). He is an active member of world level forum, The League of Parliamentarians for Al Quds. Kishan Chand Tyagi, popularly known as KC Tyagi, was born in a Bhumihar farming family in the village of Morta in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh. In an interview with MOHD NAUSHAD KHAN, he said, “I met Palestinian leader Yaseer Arafat in 1978 for the first time during a festival in Cuba on the invitation of Fidel Castro, then President of Cuba. Arafat told me: when I feel unsafe then the best place for me is the Indian Embassy.”  Excerpts:

How do you see the role of the government on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine?
For your kind information, the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi has on the record said, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. He believed in two nations and not in one nation. Earlier, it was a British colony under the British and before leaving, they made divisions of that area as Israel and Palestine. Before 1942, there was no existence of Israel, but after the world war, some Jews who had come from Europe started living there. Israel had the plan to get hold of the entire land as per its motive of one nation.

In 1974, India was the first Non-Arab country to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In 1988, India became one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine.

I met Palestinian leader Yaseer Arafat in 1978 for the first time during a festival in Cuba on the invitation of Fidel Castro, then President of Cuba. Arafat told me, when I feel unsafe, the best place for me is the Indian Embassy. Senior leader Natwar Singh, who was ambassador in that area, told me that Arafat used to come to the Embassy to take a rest there and even used to stay during night. India from the day one had good relations with Palestine. We have supported Palestine on every issue at the UN and on every other platform.

In a six-day war (5-10 June) in 1967 which was fought between Israel and  a coalition of Arab states (primarily Egypt, Syria, and Jordan), Israel captured and occupied the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank (incl. East Jerusalem) from Jordan, and the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. The UN passed dozens of resolutions to give back the captured land but Israel remained defiant. India supported Palestine in every resolution moved by the UN.

It is unfortunate that even the Congress government gave recognition to Israel which we don’t approve. The economic and military cooperation between Israel and India was started particularly during P.V. Narasimha Rao regime. When I raised the question in the Rajya Sabha, the then minister replied ‘why you are blaming us, the Congress has signed more agreements than us’. Both BJP and the Congress had signed agreements during their periods, but India had the best relationship with Palestine during Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi’s times. When Indira Gandhi died, Yaseer Arafat came and cried like a child. The dilution we see today on the Palestinian issue is very unfortunate. Although there have been efforts to rectify it yet there appears to be a blot on the non-alignment formula. The third world people who had a different perception of India on our relationship with Palestine are surprised and dismayed.

What is your reading of the conflict that is going on between Israel and Palestine?
The present situation is very deplorable. Around 20 to 25 lakh people have been forced to move out of their place. The extent of the cruelty of Israel can be analyzed from the fact that a hospital belonging to a Christian missionary was attacked and more than 500 people died. We have a tradition that from the time of Mahabharata that schools and hospitals were not attacked under any situation. The death toll is rising by the day. Even the United Nations has said that Israel cannot force the people of Gaza to flee or evacuate. Joe Biden, on whose support Israel has been doing all in these years, has said Israel should try to capture Gaza completely. But the European Union, America and the whole world are mute spectators and are silent on it. It is unfortunate that even the Muslim world is not supporting Palestinians wholeheartedly in their struggle for their land and to protect their first Qibla, Bayt al-Maqdis (Al-Aqsa). Most of the heads of the states in this region are also silent which is very unfortunate.

There should be ceasefire with immediate effect. Today US President is in Israel, it would be good if there is any kind of ceasefire, but I don’t think it is going to happen. Israel must give away the land of Palestinians captured by them.

What is your organization doing or plans to do to address the conflict between Israel and the Palestine?
We have an organization at the world level called Parliamentarians Forum for Al-Quds and I am a member of that organization. With the help of this forum, we were able to go to many places to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine and their cause. We also try to intervene in our country as and when required. Until yesterday, when perception was building as if the entire India is in favor of Israel, we made an effort with Ex-ministers, MPs, Present MPs, political leaders from various parties and met Palestinian Ambassador at Embassy to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people.

We have raised the issue time and again and would have also raised it in Parliament if Parliament session was going on. Earlier, I have raised the issue of Palestine in our Parliament and will continue to do so. After our solidarity meet with the Palestinian Ambassador, I have received a number of telephone calls telling me that after our meet they came to know that in India there are people who are still supporting the Palestinian people and raising their voice against their suppression.

What according to you are the hurdles against settling the two-nation formula?
Israel’s ambition and aggression is the biggest hurdle against the formula of the two-nation theory. Donald Trump in his time period aggravated the situation further. Benjamin Netanyahu is in the grip of corruption. He has reformed judiciary in such a way that it will remain by his side in matters related to him.

How would you like to respond to the flood of fake news which has come in India in the aftermath of conflict between Israel and Palestine?
We can see fake news every now and then in India or elsewhere and we can see fake news also after the conflict began. We can see fake news drive like anti-Muslims, anti-Islam and it is part of that mentality which is driven by prejudiced Islamophobic nature. It has become more aggressive these days. The hatemongering machinery used to say generally that Palestinians are so cruel and they are killing children. They are saying so when the casualty is much higher in Palestine as compared to that in Israel. Children, hospitals, schools and places of worships are being attacked, keeping on the backburner all international laws. Israel is a barbarian terrorist nation which the world should understand.

The Arab world, particularly the way Saudi Arabia is inching closer to Israel, portrays a very wrong picture. America is behind all that is happening in the region. America has been the root cause of the problems emanating from various parts of the world, be it crisis in Afghanistan, fight between Iran and Iraq, fight between Shia and Sunni, regime overthrow in Iraq and Libya. America has been reason behind the de-settlement taking place in many parts of the world.

Conflict between Israel and Palestine can be stopped within minutes if America wants to do so but the Israeli lobby dominant in America will not allow it to do so.

How do you think major political parties are trying to exploit the situation for their domestic interest?
I don’t think so, no major political parties are trying to exploit the situation. Congress and other political parties have always spoken in favour of Palestine. Even Atal Behari Bajpayee in tune with us on the record had said when he was Foreign Minister. He said at a rally in Delhi in March 1977, “For permanent peace in the Middle-East, Israel must vacate Palestinian land it has illegally occupied.” Some extremist elements within the BJP used to create an atmosphere of polarization before elections with anti-Muslim, anti-Islam hate campaign and they are also doing now.

I am happy that ultimately the government of India while slightly deviating from the earlier position of Narendra Modi has accepted the two-nation theory and also talked of ceasefire.

Do you think the ongoing conflict will be an issue during assembly elections and in 2024 Lok Sabha polls?
No, I don’t think it is going to be an issue before elections. The issue will be unemployment, price rise and above all social justice and caste census going to be major political issues ahead of elections.