Non-resident Indians (NRI) in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations have heaved a sigh of relief after Israel and Hamas agreed on the Gaza ceasefire, ending 11 days of fighting.
A truce between Israel and Hamas has come as a pleasant comfort to the large population of the expat community. "It is a very good initiative by Egypt and Qatar, after days of mediation and mounting international pressure. Both Israel and Palestine have been suffering due to the conflict,” said Bernad Mendez, an entrepreneur in Bahrain.
Welcoming the truce, Mohammed Hashim, an NRI in Dubai, hoped that the decision would pave the way towards ending further violence in the region. The United Nations, United States, the European Union and the West Asia should work together for peaceful coexistence of both the Arabs and the Jews, he said.
Two-fold blow to Indians
Ashraf Padanna, a journalist with the U.A.E.-based Gulf Today , said the Israel-Palestine conflict had become a two-fold blow to the Indian diaspora in the region. "The fighting has been a double whammy of sorts for expatriates at a time when many had lost their jobs, people are stranded, families separated and flights restricted due to COVID-19-induced lockdown. The ceasefire will be a relief for Keralites in the Gulf countries,” Mr. Padanna said.
Incidentally, the recent conflict had erupted when the strengthening of Israel's relationship with many GCC countries could have helped reactivate the stalled Israeli-Palestine peace process. But now, NRIs are also nervous about the violence and death in Gaza and the impact on GCC nations.
"We feel that the economy has been ailing for some time due to the pandemic and drop in oil revenues. Such tensions in West Asia could bring havoc on national security and economy," said Manoj Pillai, a Bahrain-based consultant.
However, there are many who feel that only a political solution would bring lasting peace and security. "The ceasefire is just temporary, which is a good relief for the suffering citizens. But this will flare up again unless the basic issues are resolved," said Anil Gopinath, an NRI in Saudi Arabia.
Sayeed Mohammed, a businessman in a GCC nation, felt that long-lasting peace was essential in the region to avoid the war-like situation spilling over to other countries such as Lebanon.
“There has been wide condemnation of Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and Gaza from all Arab states. Previously, the Abraham Accords, ratified by the U.A.E and Bahrain, was a major diplomatic breakthrough in the Arab-Israeli relations. This should continue. But the question on Palestine statehood remains unanswered,” he said.