President to visit Jordan, Palestine, Israel

Jewish holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem will not be part of the visit

Updated - March 24, 2016 06:59 pm IST

Published - October 07, 2015 12:43 am IST - New Delhi:

Marking a historic first in India’s diplomacy, President Pranab Mukherjee will begin a trip to Jordan, Palestine and most importantly, Israel, from October 10. The three-stop, five-day tour will be noted especially since it will be the first time that an Indian President will be visiting Jerusalem, since normalisation and upgrading of India-Israel diplomatic ties in 1992.

Despite being connected by deep defence and strategic ties, India had avoided sending the President to Israel in the past. According to diplomatic sources, President Mukherjee will visit the Yad Vashem, the famous Holocaust Memorial on a hill near Jerusalem, apart from addressing the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. The visit as of now, will follow the “official protocol” that means the Jewish holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem will not be part of the visit.

Secretary (East) Anil Wadhwa said Mr. Mukherjee’s delegation would include Vice-Chancellors of Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University — both of which are known for anti-Israel protests and support for the Palestinian cause. During the two-day trip to Israel, Mr. Mukherjee will hold talks with President Reuven Rivlin, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and oversee agreements on water usage, and academic exchanges.

The President’s visit to Israel is significant as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to follow his flight path to Israel in near future as announced by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on May 30.

The three-nation tour will take President Mukherjee to the heart of the Arab-Israel region as he will be welcomed first in Jordanian capital Amman, and then proceed to the Palestinian capital Ramallah and Jerusalem. Mr. Mukherjee will be accompanied by six members of Parliament and Thawar Chand Gahlot, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.

Following his visit to Amman, the President will visit Ramallah where he will pay floral tributes at the mausoleum of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. At Ramallah, he will meet President Mahmoud Abbas and hold talks. The visit, however, will not include a trip to Gaza, which is under the control of Hamas.

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