In his first in-person meeting with Israeli leadership since the October 7 terror attacks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences over the lives lost, during a bilateral meeting with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog on the sidelines of the UN’s COP 28 Climate Summit in Dubai. The meeting came hours after Israel announced a resumption of hostilities against Hamas and began military operations in southern Gaza.
While Mr. Modi called for ensuring regular humanitarian supplies to the Palestinian population, he did not call for a ceasefire. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who also met the PM in Dubai, made a strong appeal to end hostilities, calling the situation in Gaza an “epic humanitarian catastrophe”.
Support for two-State solution
“Prime Minister expressed his condolences on the loss of lives in the October 7 terror attacks and welcomed the release of hostages,” said a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs detailing the discussions with Mr. Herzog. “[Mr. Modi] reiterated the need for continued and safe delivery of humanitarian aid for the affected population. He emphasised on India’s support for a two state solution and early and durable resolution of Israel Palestine issue through dialogue and diplomacy,” it added.
The PM also held informal talks with leaders from Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar, and other regional leaders present during the day. The MEA added that the PM had “exchanged views on Israel-Hamas conflict” during a bilateral meeting with United Arab Emirates President Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Israel’s case for self-defence
In a social media post, the Israeli President — who posted a photo of his meeting with Mr. Modi, as well as his meetings with leaders from the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Brazil — said that he had made Israel’s case for “self-defence”.
“This morning at the [climate summit], I met dozens of leaders from around the world,” Mr. Herzog wrote, adding that he spoke about how Hamas violated the ceasefire, which Israel claims was the reason it resumed military operations in Gaza.
“I repeated again and again the demand to place the release of the hostages at the very top of the international community’s agenda, alongside respect for the right of the State of Israel to defend itself,” he added.
In the past few days, Hamas has freed more than 100 hostages as a part of a negotiated deal with Israel. In exchange, Israel stopped bombing Gaza, released more than 200 Palestinian prisoners, and allowed aid trucks with much-needed food, fuel, and water to enter south Gaza. However, on Friday, Israel restarted the bombardment of Gaza and combat operations, citing rockets fired by Hamas. It has now told the residents of south Gaza to evacuate the area, including about a million people from the northern part of the enclave who are now taking shelter there.
On Friday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that he “deeply regretted” the resumption of hostilities in Gaza. “The return to hostilities only shows how important it is to have a true humanitarian ceasefire,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement.
The MEA said that Mr. Modi and Mr. Guterres had held talks in Dubai, but did not specifically mention the conflict. “Both leaders exchanged views on priorities and concerns of the Global South related to Climate Action, climate finance, technology and reforms of the multilateral governance and financial institutions, including the UN,” the MEA statement said.