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PM Modi Lands in Tel Aviv; To De-hyphenate Israel And Palestine?

But it is the Prime Minister's visit to Israel alone, without it being clubbed with an engagement with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, that is giving the first sure indication of India’s attempt at de-hyphenating Israel and Palestine.

Maha Siddiqui | CNN-News18

Updated:July 4, 2017, 9:13 PM IST
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PM Modi Lands in Tel Aviv; To De-hyphenate Israel And Palestine?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Ben Gurion Airport.
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New Delhi: Less than a month ago, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj extensively explained how India was learning the art of handling antagonistic relationships with diplomatic deft. She said "ye Bharat ki prabhavi kootneeti ka parinaam hai ki Bharat ke rishte dono deshon se bahut achhe hain" (It is a result of India’s effective diplomacy that it enjoys good relations with both countries). She cited the example of Palestine and Israel. But it is the Prime Minister's visit to Israel alone, without it being clubbed with an engagement with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, that is giving the first sure indication of India’s attempt at de-hyphenating Israel and Palestine.

From SM Krishna to Sushma Swaraj and President Pranab Mukherjee, all Indian dignitaries have always visited both Palestine and Israel together, never stand-alone. The Israeli side is naturally enthused that India has has made this exception but there is a political backlash in India. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said "PM Modi has abdicated the 70 year old foreign policy by choosing not to visit the occupied territories. Why does the PM have no time to go to Palestine to show India stands firmly with the the cause of the oppressed? "

India has tried to clarify it's position on the issue with the PM stating quite clearly that the Indian embassy will remain in Tel Aviv in an interview to Israeli newspaper Isreal Hayom. He said the a decision to have one in Jeruselum can not take place until a final agreement between the two parties. He said, "we believe in a two-state solution in which both Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist peacefully."

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives PM Modi at Ben Gurion Airport.

Former MoS External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor, said India should be cautious that the wrong message should not go out during this visit that India is backing off from its support to the Palestinian cause. In the same breath he also said that it was time the India-Israel relationship "should stand on its feet."

Even as India does the tightrope walk walk in West Asia, this is a carefully considered decision. The visit by the Prime Minister has been in the offing for over 2 years now. A discussion was on since Modi took over in 2014 and a formal announcement was made in 2015 in Sushma Swaraj's first annual press conference. Over this period India has had time to not just guage the response from Palestine and the Arab world but also had time to pay visits and host dignitaries from these countries to assauge any concerns.

In fact, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was in India only in May this year. According to Sushma Swaraj the Palestinian President had expressed the desire that India would use its good offices with Israel to resolve the situation. Speaking to News18, Dana Kursh, the Deputy Chief of Mission in the Israeli embassy in India said that India is its friend and that India's support for a mutually agreed solution between Israel and Palestine will be very valuable.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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