QUESTION : What is the bone of contention behind the bitterness in Israel-UAE relations and Does India support the establishment of a sovereign independent state of Palestine? Discuss.
Topic- NEW ORDER IN WEST ASIA
Arab Peace Initiative
WHY IN NEWS ?
The Abraham Accord between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain is mediated by the USA. It is the first Arab-Israeli peace deal in 26 years.
THE ABRAHAM ACCORDS :
- Has been signed recently by the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, under U.S. President Donald Trump’s mediation.
- It marks a new beginning in the relations between the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdoms and the Jewish state.
- Under the agreement, the UAE and Bahrain would normalise ties with Israel, leading to better economic, political and security engagement.
- The agreements have the backing of Saudi Arabia, arguably the most influential Arab power and a close ally of the UAE and Bahrain. More Arab countries are expected to follow suit.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO BE NOTED :
- Previous Agreements: There were the only two peace deals between Israel and the Arab States in more than a quarter of a century.
o Egypt was the first Arab State to sign a peace deal with Israel in 1979.
o Jordan signed a peace pact in 1994.
- THE AGREEMENT :
o As per the agreements, the UAE and Bahrain will establish:
Embassies and exchange ambassadors.
Working together with Israel across a range of sectors, including tourism, trade, healthcare and security.
o The Abraham Accords also open the door for Muslims around the world to visit the historic sites in Israel and to peacefully pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.
In the Islamic tradition, the Kaaba in Mecca is considered the holiest site, followed by the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
- Bringing Israel, the UAE and Bahrain together reflects their shared concern about Iran’s rising influence in the region and development of ballistic missiles. Iran has been critical of both deals.
ARAB-ISRAEL RELATIONS :
- Since Israeli independence in 1948, it has fought several wars with Arab neighbouring countries.
- The persecuted Jews saw Israel as their promised home while Arabs saw it as an occupation.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE AGREEMENT :
- The agreement shows how the Arab countries are gradually decoupling themselves from the Palestine question.
- The deal buys UAE a lot of goodwill in the US, where its image has been tarnished by its involvement in the Yemen war.
- Other gulf states in the region like Bahrain and Oman could follow suit and sign similar agreements with Israel .
- If the Arab states do fall in line, it would dramatically bring all Sunni nations in the region in an anti-Iran alliance with Israel.
- In South Asia, it will put Pakistan in a bind, whether to follow UAE’s steps (will be seen as giving up Islamic cause of Palestine) or not to follow UAE (since it is already in feud with the Saudis over not taking up Kashmir case, Pakistan cannot afford another hostile Islamic Country)
- The Palestinians have not embraced the USA’s vision. 86% of Palestinians believe the normalization agreement with the UAE serves only Israel’s interests and not their own.
o There is a possibility that the Palestine quest is further ignored.
- Shia-Sunni rifts in the region may get wide and violent.
o Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (representing Shia) have a long history of enmity. For decades, one of the main sources of instability in West Asia has been the cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
o The Sunni-Shiite schism may also provoke violence between Muslims in such places as Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia.
INDIA’S INTEREST IN WEST ASIA ?
West Asia occupies an important position in international relations due to its geographical location and proximity to continents and countries South Asia, China, Central Asia, Europe, and Africa.
The region is strategically significant due to its enormous energy resources, trade route links to different parts of the world.
It is the world’s largest oil-producing region accounting for 34% of world production, 45% of crude oil exports and 48% of oil proven reserves.
- Indian expatriates have constituted a substantial share of the regional labour market.
- Remittances from the region constitute a major chunk of total remittances to India.
OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIA :
o Defence and Security:
India should use this unexpected opportunity to give itself a bigger role in a region which is its strategic backyard. The first step should be to ramp up defence and security relations with UAE.
Israel is already a very close defence partner.
o While some work has already happened, India should leverage its economy for a bigger opening in this region. Importantly, India can use its good offices to ensure that any future deal on a regional security framework gives adequate space to Iran, which may be weak but not so weak that it cannot be a hugely disruptive power if it so chooses.
WAY FORWARD :
- A balance between Shia and Sunni, between Persian and Arab, is key to any sustainable peace.
- The US may be a pre-eminent power in the Middle East, but Russia has made a space for itself, spending a lot less money. In recent years, China has indicated its willingness to play a larger role in this region, and is close to both UAE and Israel and, increasingly, Saudi Arabia.
- India should make its moves before this market and this extended neighbourhood come under the Chinese sphere of influence.
- In order to bring peace in the region as they have claimed, the signatories and the US should address the more structural issues, which include the unresolved question of Palestine.
QUESTION : Exemplify how the emergence of press in the 19th century, contributed to the growth of nationalism and struggle for independence in India. Also state the steps taken by the British government to suppress its popularity.
Topic- PANDEMIC AND A FREE PRESS
- Freedom of Media
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Recently, the higher judiciary passed an order that pertains to regulation of Media. In one order, Andhra Pradesh High Court imposed a ban on the media, and even social media, from mentioning anything in relation to a case linked to former Advocate General of the State.
- In recent years, there have been quite a few instances of interim injunctions against all media houses obtained by the petitioner solely to prevent any news reporting about them. Such orders by the courts restrain the media from reporting on particular cases or people.
- While claiming to be defamed by one publication, they have been able to obtain open-ended stays on publications.
IMPORTANCE OF FREE MEDIA :
- Free Media promotes open discussion of ideas that allows individuals to fully participate in political life, making informed decisions and strengthening society as a result — especially in a large democracy such as India.
- A free exchange of ideas, free exchange of information and knowledge, debating and expression of different viewpoints is important for smooth functioning of democracy. As the free media by virtue of being the voice of masses, empowers them with the right to express opinions.Thus, free media is critical in a democracy.
- With Free Media, people will be able to exercise their rights as questioning decisions of government. Such an environment can be created only when freedom of press is achieved.
- Hence, Media can be rightly considered as the fourth pillar of democracy, the other three being legislature, executive and judiciary.
ISSUES RELATED WITH PRESENT MEDIA :
Right to Privacy: The right to privacy emanates from natural rights, which are basic, inherent and inalienable rights.
o Article 21 which guarantees right to life guarantees right to privacy impliedly.
o Many times, the media has crossed its limits of fair reporting and intruded in personal spheres of life.
o In Aarushi Talwar Murder Case, the Supreme Court took a view that transparency and secrecy in an investigation are two different things. Where the apex court questioned a section of media for reporting that had resulted in tarnishing the reputation of the victim and her family members.
- The Supreme Court in Sahara vs. SEBI (2012) observed that the court can grant preventive relief on a balancing of the right to free trial and a free press.
- Since such trials by the media are likely to affect the reputation of the judiciary and judicial proceedings adversely, it interferes with the functioning of the judiciary as well.
- Paid News: Paid news and fake news can manipulate public perception and can instigate hatred, violence, and disharmony among the various communities within society.
- The absence of objective journalism leads to the false presentation of truth in a society which affects the perception and opinions of people.
FREEDOM OF PRESS :
- The Constitution, the supreme law of the land, guarantees freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, which deals with ‘Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.
- Freedom of press is not expressly protected by Indian legal system but it is impliedly protected under article 19(1) (a) of the constitution, which states – “All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression”.
- In 1950, the Supreme Court in Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras observed that freedom of the press lay at the foundation of all democratic organisations.
WAY FORWARD :
- As a matter of principle, courts must avoid blanket orders against publication.
- The Supreme Court Judgment in the Sahara vs. SEBI (2012) case can act as an important guiding point for the judiciary in this direction.
- Adherence to Media Ethics: It is important that the media stick to the core principles like truth and accuracy, transparency, independence, fairness and impartiality, responsibility and fair play.
- Strengthening Institutional Framework
- There is the need to maintain a balance between free expression and other community and individual rights; this responsibility should not be borne by the judiciary alone, but by all those who enjoy these rights.