Addressing a thinly-attended special session of Knesset on Wednesday, President Pranab Mukherjee stayed away from the issue of terrorism altogether, while talking about the old ties binding India and Israel.
A day after one of the worst attacks in Jerusalem, Mukherjee disappointed many by not talking about the violence in the Israeli parliament or earlier in Ramallah.
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This was just about an hour after Mukherjee deviated from his prepared speech at the ceremonial reception given to him by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, to say that India “was distressed at the recent violence”. “India condemns all forms of violence. We have always advocated peaceful resolution of all disputes. I will seek an assessment from the Israeli leadership of the recent developments in this region, which have caused concern all over the world and have direct implications for India,” he said.
In Wednesday’s papers, some Israeli media had noted his failure to address the recent violence when in Palestine.
At the Knesset, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu referred to “dear friend” Narendra Modi, adding that they “speak very often”. He said Modi had told him, “‘We want Israel’,” and that, “‘I cannot carry out my revolution of colours without you’.” He mentioned the help extended by India for rescuing Israeli trekkers during Nepal earthquake. Speaking on terrorism, he said both India and Israel were its victims.
Mukherjee underlined “ancient linkages” between India and Israel and said his visit was taking place at a time when “relations between our governments and people are on a very positive trajectory”. In his welcome address at the reception, President Rivlin said India and Israel were making history together. He also said both countries were “trying to keep our world safe from fundamentalism and terrorism”.
Mukherjee laid a wreath at a memorial for soldiers and the two sides signed agreements on a cultural exchange programme and double taxation.