Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s standalone visit to Israel next week does not amount to New Delhi diluting its commitment to the Palestinian cause, but indicates pursuit of its relations with the Jewish State on its own merit, said a former diplomat. Talmiz Ahmad said Modi “skipping” Ramallah during his tour, highlighted by some Israeli commentators, does not mean India is changing its stand on Palestine. The city in the central West Bank is the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, set up in 1994.
Ahmad, who had served as Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, said he personally does not attach any significance to Modi’s standalone visit focusing only on India’s ties with Israel. The PM is scheduled to land in Israel on July 4 on a three-day visit, the first ever by an Indian premier. “What this indicates is that we are pursuing our relations with Israel on its own merit, and we are separating this relationship from our commitment to the Palestinian cause,” he told PTI.
Ahmad noted that during his visit to India last month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was given a “very very good, very warm welcome”, and the government reiterated its commitment to the interests of Palestinian people.
Modi now going to Israel indicates that New Delhi is pursuing its relations with the West Asian nation on its own merit, the retired IFS officer said. “We are de-hyphenating our relations with Israel from our commitment to the Palestinian cause. It does not, in any way, indicates that our commitment to the Palestinian interests has been diluted.” “Our relationship has been de-hyphenated because we are pursuing the two interests separately. When Mahmoud Abbas visited India, there was absolutely no indication whatsoever we have diluted our commitment to the Palestinian cause”, Ahmad added.
“Unlike most world leaders, however, Modi, who governs the world’s largest democracy and second largest nation, apparently is refusing to visit Ramallah during his Israel trip and will not schedule meetings with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas or other PA leaders,” Israeli commentator Arutz Sheva said in a report. Modi had met Abbas during the PA leader’s trip to India in May, and senior Indian officials have visited Abbas at his Ramallah residence during their trips to Israel, it added.
President Pranab Mukherjee had visited the region in October 2015 when he met both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Modi’s visit is aimed at commemorating 25 years of establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.