Israel ‘upset’ with India’s ties with Palestine

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) speaks to President Pranab Mukherjee during a banquet hosted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (right) at President House, Jerusalem on Wednesday.  

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed his unhappiness with India’s “lenience” towards Palestine.

In a state lunch hosted by Mr. Netanyahu at King David hotel in Jerusalem on Thursday, he told Pranab Mukherjee that Israel expects India to change its stand towards Palestine, according to a person who was present at the lunch.

“The Israelis want India to end its pro-Palestine policy. They expect a decisive shift in India’s approach towards the issue under (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi,” said the person, who did not want to be named.

“The Israelis are not happy that he (Mr. Mukherjee) went to and stayed overnight at Palestine. The Palestinians are not happy that we have good relationship with Israel. But overall, the president has re-emphasised India’s Israel-Palestine policy, that it’s hyphenated,” said the person.

Mr. Mukherjee skipped the Palestinian issue in his Knesset speech on Wednesday. The focus of his speech was India’s economic and technological cooperation with Israel, while in Palestine and Jordan he said New Delhi remained committed to the Palestinian cause.

Mr. Netanyahu, on the other side, slammed the “Islamist radicals”, and drew parallels between India and Israel as victims of Islamist terror in his Knesset speech. He referred to Mr. Modi as “dear friend” twice in his speech, and said he speaks to the Mr. Modi “quite often”.

But diplomatic sources said a paradigm shift in India’s foreign policy is practically impossible. “Israel is important for us, for economic and technological cooperation, for critical defence supplies. But we don’t have any ideological association with Israel,” a diplomat told The Hindu, who also requested anonymity.

Asked what India is getting in return for supporting Palestine from a realistic point of view, the official said: “Most countries in the world support the Palestinian statehood. That’s a principled position in international diplomacy. Changing that would malign our image. Also, it’s a sensitive issue at home. We can’t afford to alienate sections of our population over this issue.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 6:34:10 PM |

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