Mukherjee first Indian President to address Knesset

Mukherjee first Indian President to address Knesset

President Pranab Mukherjee will be the first Indian head of the state to address the Knesset, the Parliament of Israel, but he is not the first Indian to do so as Heptullah, now Union Minorities Minister, had addressed Israeli lawmakers on May 30, 2000.

Then Rajya Sabha Vice Chairperson, she was the head of the International Parliamentary Union and addressed the Knesset in that capacity in the presence of then Speaker Avraham Burg.

Though officials did not speculate on the contents of Mukherjee’s speech, the President is expected to touch upon India’s stand on Israel-Palestine conflict.

Heptullah had then told the Israeli lawmakers about their shared culture where they revere the “same prophets and share many of the same tenets and beliefs”.

“We neither can change our history, nor our geography. We can change the lines we draw on our maps and, in trying to do so, we may sweat and argue and fight for decades. But in the long run, the quality of our lives will probably be affected more by the attitudes with which we choose to live on either side of, or even cutting across, those lines.

Accommodation and trust, prosperity and equal opportunity are the keys to lasting peace as much as those lines on those maps,” she had said.

New Delhi views the invitation for a Knesset address as a “great honour”. “I am sure the Israeli parliamentarians will be eager to meet him. It also gives him an opportunity to talk to them about our own system and how India is conducting itself in the democratic field. And that will be an interesting interaction,” said Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in External Affairs Ministry.

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