Palestinian President to visit India a month before Modi’s Israel trip

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is likely to visit India in May, a month ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Israel in June, sources have told HT.

Modi’s will be the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Israel and he is set to skip Palestine in a break from the tradition of senior Indian leaders clubbing two countries in the same trip.

“We are looking at May for the visit of President Abbas to India. Discussions are underway to finalise the dates, most probably for the second half of the month,” a source told HT.

Though the Modi government is trying to put an end to hyphenating Israel with Palestine , historical legacy and India’s close ties with the Arab world makes this a delicate process. India has been steadily increasing its defence and security ties with Israel since mid 1990s, but the successive governments have kept the ties low profile in public.

However, the Modi government hasn’t been coy about scaling up its ties with Israel. President Pranab Mukherjee became the first Indian head of state to visit Israel. The President visited Palestine on October 12, 2015 before making a three-day trip to Israel from the next day– something Modi is unlikely to repeat.

But government official insists that there is no change in India’s commitment to the Palestine cause and pointed out it was the Modi government which has done the “first ever India-Palestine joint commission”. The commission was co-chaired by minister of state for external affairs M J Akbar.

“The visit of Palestine Authority President will be another opportunity for India to step up the ties between the two countries”, said another source.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Israel.

By: Hindustan Times

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Categories: Geopolitics, National

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