The Prime Ministers of India and Israel – Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi who also happen to be good friends are now at the epicentre of minority agitations in their respective countries.
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The ground reality in Israel ahead of its third successive election in less than 12 months has Prime Minister Netanyahu worried as he requires a push of one or two seats more to assume power. The reason for his worry – the Arab minority.
The Arab minority – a powerful force in Israeli politics – is leaving no stones unturned in expressing their anger against the right-wing Prime Minister for his stance on the new peace plan proposed by US President Donald Trump.
After a call from the Arab lawmakers, the community is expected to show up in large numbers as a symbol of their protest.
The turmoil isn’t dissimilar from that happening in Israel’s key ally India where thousands of minorities are on the streets against the ruling party led by Prime Minister Modi.
While it is Trump’s peace plan that triggered the minorities in Israel, it is Prime Minister Modi’s Citizenship Amendment act that has created a furore in the South Asian country. The two agitations from a larger perspective comes from the deep-rooted fear among the minorities coupled with their dislike for their ultra-nationalistic leaders.
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The fear among the Israeli Arabs of being displaced from Israel, if the proposed peace plan comes into effect. The plan focuses on redrawing of the borders that could potentially put Arab villages and towns outside Israel into the assigned Palestinian state in the future.
The Muslims in India, a large part of them, are opposed to the amendment in citizenship rules that they consider anti-muslim in nature. While Prime Minister Modi doesn’t have the election scare like his friend, the growing agitation has raised several questions on the secular fabric of India under Modi.
Ayman Odeh, the chief of the Arab-dominated coalition believes that it is Benjamin Netanyahu who laid the foundation for the draconian peace deal. He also added that as Netanyahu is the biggest instigator of the “Deal of the Century”, the Israelis, especially the Arabs, must overthrow him.
The elections of September have placed both the centrist party Blue and White led by Benny Gantz and Likud movement led by Netanyahu in a close neck-to-neck competition. The Arabs are in power in 13 out of 120 member Knesset. If the Arabs and the centrist maintain their vote share or even up it by a margin, it will virtually mean an exit of Netanyahu from the office.
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As elections are approaching, Netanyahu identified the crisis and went onto assure that no homes will be uprooted and it will be the last thing he would want. Despite this, the Arabs have failed to solidify their trust in him. A part of it also stems from his unfulfilled promise to have direct flights to Mecca.
Narendra Modi’s party, the BJP, managed to win only 8 seats out of 70 in the recently concluded Delhi elections on the back of strong anti-citizenship protests in the capital. While Modi managed to return to office in 2019 despite the distrust from the minorities, it will be keen to see if Netanyahu can emulate his friend’s success.