Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to India: Here’s how Modi government is doing a great balancing act between Israel and Palestine

India will seek to elevate its ties with Palestine that would include a possible security related arrangement during the visit of President Mahmoud Abbas, in what would reflect the Narendra Modi-led government’s classic diplomatic balancing act ahead of the prime minister’s Israel trip in July.

The two sides are currently negotiating a security mechanism during Abbas’ likely visit on May 15 that will enable sharing of information and perspectives, besides combating international terror, hinted people familiar with the issue. There is no such formal agreement between India and Palestine on the global threat so far.

This is Abbas’ maiden trip to India under the NDA regime and Delhi hopes to have Palestine as a partner in the volatile region where it has vital human, energy and security interests.

Contrary to initial perception, the Modi-led government has had a sustained engagement with Palestine, including a visit by President Pranab Mukherjee in 2015, holding the first ever Joint Commission last year and extending grants for development and capacity building projects.

The visit by the Palestinian president after his trips to the US and Russia will also enable Delhi to get an understanding of Abbas’ engagements with global powers on the Israeli-Palestine issue, pointed out people quoted above.

Abbas trip will not only help Delhi get sense of the current Palestinian position on its dispute with Israel but also enable the government to get a view on the current status of conflict in the West Asian region, including in Syria. India has had a long-standing principle of a two-state solution to end the protracted Israeli-Palestine crisis.

The recent meet of the Arab leaders in Amman called for “creation of a Palestinian state under a two-state solution that would be the basis of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal”.

Abbas is expected to share perspectives from this meet when he meets Modi. Delhi is not yet a mediator in many of the conflicts in West Asia but hopes to expand its footprints across the region, which is in its extended neighbourhood. India also participated in a conference on Israel and Palestine organised by France in Paris earlier this year.

Furthering strategic ties with West Asia has been a priority for the BJP-led NDA government. It has walked the extra mile to engage the Arab countries as well as Iran, even as it has consolidated relations with Israel.

By: ET

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