India and Israel make for very strange bedfellows. They are asymmetrical in absolute terms and have no common geopolitical or geostrategic aspirations. Their shared factor comes through a quirk of history and similar radical, supremist, expansionist ideologies. Furthermore, both have illegally occupied Muslim lands and thus find common cause against the subjugated peoples. However, the similarities end there.

International laws on illegal occupations are very explicit. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that, “the Occupation Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territories it occupies”. Israel claims that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to it while the UNGA, ICRC, ICJ and the High Contracting Parties to the Convention think otherwise. It applies to India as well. UNSC Resolution 2334 passed in December 2016 states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity”. It demands that Israel stop such activity and fulfil its obligations as an Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The US did not veto this UNSC Resolution; rather meaningfully abstained!

India is in awe of Israel’s audacious military operations against the hapless, defenceless Palestinians and its proclivity at impudently establishing illegal settlements on the West Bank by dispossessing and pushing them into refugee camps. (The Sangh Parivaar-RSS-BJP Combine idolises the Israelis and the Nazis in equal measure and praises them in the same breath. The irony is lost on the US-Israel Duo!). India wants to ape and replicate these Israeli policies, operational strategies and tactics in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K) to achieve similar objectives.

However, India has misinterpreted Israel’s arrogant domination of the Middle East (ME). Israel is the singular regional (nuclear) power with a carte blanche’ from the US. Its hubris stems forth from this unique US-Israel relationship that allows it to violate all international laws and norms and universal HR conventions that clash with its national interests, with callous impunity. The Indians have misconstrued US endorsement of Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank, and the establishment of Israeli settlements and Palestinian refugee camps. They have drawn the wrong lessons. These are exclusively Israel-specific concessions. It will be a critical faux pas were the Indians to pursue this as an acceptable international precedent. It is patently not one.

Indian plans in IOJ&K perhaps entailed in Phase One the abrogation of Articles 37 and 35A of the Indian Constitution and in Phase Two the change of status of J&K and Ladakh into Union Territories. This theoretical absurdity is supposed to consummate the “annexation” of IOJ&K by India. Phase Three conceivably will involve the “re-integration” of IOJ&K into the Indian Union through a “resettlement programme” whereby Hindu Pandits and retired Armed Forces personnel will be relocated into the territories of IOJ&K - the basic motive for the abrogation of Article 35A! In Phase Four an economic stake might be created for the Kashmiris in IOJ&K through “investments”. Genuine investors, though, will stay away from a destabilized IOJ&K. Land for the illegal settlements may be acquired either at exorbitant prices or by simply militarily coercing and dispossessing the Muslims of their ancestral and traditional habitats. In Phase Five these dispossessed Muslims might be shifted into refugee camps along the LOC and later in Phase Six, pushed across. This exercise will ostensibly not only “rebalance” the demographic nature of the IOJ&K but will also augur well for India in a possible UN mandated plebiscite in Kashmir. If implemented, this plan will vitiate the strategic environment crucially, spark fierce skirmishes astride the LOC and might culminate in a conventional-nuclear war. That will threaten the economic interests of the US-led Western and Arab worlds in the Indian economy and market. The strategic implications thereof would thus be global in dimension!

Despite their shared objectives to occupy Muslim lands, the geopolitical and geostrategic environments in the ME and the Indo-Pak subcontinent are poles apart. The major players involved and their compulsions are very different. The US has an abiding vital national interest in Israel’s hegemonic dominance of the region and supports it unconditionally. On the other hand, it has no vital interests in the Indo-Pak subcontinent and is thus unlikely to endorse India’s horrendous illegalities in IOJ&K. Instead, India might have to either muster to US summons against China or just bank upon its attraction as an investment mecca to win international support for its illegal “annexation” of IOJ&K.

Furthermore, the US has neutralized all threats to Israel’s security from its neighbours/adversaries. However, Pakistan remains steadfast and unwavering in its support of the UN mandated Kashmiris Right to Self Determination. The Palestine issue has been marginalized since long. The Kashmir issue stands revived by Pakistan and is actively under discussion at the UN, OIC, US Congress, European Parliament, British Parliament and other international fora and media. And most importantly, unlike the nuclear exceptionalism that Israel enjoys and projects in the ME, India has no such distinctiveness in the region. Pakistan is a very significant conventional-nuclear military power and unlikely to roll over and die in the face of Indian threats, harangues and hysterical mis-disinformation campaigns. Pakistan’s military capabilities will continue to exercise a very potent, direct and tangible check over Indian intents in the region. The vital interests of three nuclear powers, including China too, critically clash in Kashmir.

The Indians need to recognize these crucial factors before mindlessly aping the Israelis in IOJ&K. India is no Israel (or the US by any stretch of the imagination). Period. It is punching way beyond its weight. Its policies and conduct should be commensurate with its political clout, military capabilities and the strategic environment/ground realities that obtain in the region. The mismatch is of mammoth proportions!

India needs to wake up from its megalomaniac stupor and have a very serious reality check. These illegal settlements in IOJ&K will violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, international law, UN/UNSC Resolutions and universal HR Conventions and remain unrecognized internationally. They may spark off a possible conventional-nuclear war. India must avoid creating a potentially irretrievable strategic dilemma for the world!