Sushma to visit Israel, ahead of Netanyahu visit

Dates of Israeli PM's visit to India yet to be finalised

Sushma to visit Israel, ahead of Netanyahu visit

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is set to travel to Jerusalem early next week to start preparations for the proposed visit of Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, to New Delhi.

Netanyahu is going to be the second Israeli prime minister to visit India. His visit to New Delhi is likely to be reciprocated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel later this year. Though Netanyahu himself announced a couple of months ago that he would soon travel to New Delhi, the dates for the visit are yet to be finalized. Officials told Deccan Herald on Tuesday that Swaraj would call on Netanyahu in Jerusalem and extend a formal invitation from Modi.

Ariel Sharon, who travelled to New Delhi in 2003, was the first prime minister of Israel to visit India. No Indian prime minister has so far visited Israel. Pranab Mukherjee, who visited Israel in October 2014, was the first President to visit Israel. Ezer Weizmann’s visit to New Delhi in 1997 was the first by a President of Israel.

Noting that Israel and India shared a “close and multifaceted relationship”, the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday stated that Swaraj would hold discussions on entire gamut of bilateral relation with the leadership of the West Asian country. “The two sides share firm belief in the values of democracy and free market economy. India and Israel also share close relation in the fields of agriculture, science & technology and education,” stated the MEA.

Swaraj will briefly visit Palestine before travelling to Israel.

India has been steadfastly supporting the Palestinian people’s struggle for a sovereign, independent, viable and united state within secure and recognised borders, side by side at peace, with Israel, and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

India was the first non-Arab country to recognize Palestine way back in 1988.
India’s growing ties with Israel after the Bharatitya Janata Party’s ascent to power, however, fuelled speculation about New Delhi reviewing its position on Palestine.
“India’s relations with Israel are part of its engagement with the broader West Asia region and are independent to its relations with any country in the region,” the MEA stated on Tuesday.

Swaraj will call on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other leaders during her stay in Ramallah, where she will also inaugurate a centre for digital learning and innovation – a facility built by India as its development support to Palestine. “The visit will also reaffirm India’s continued political, diplomatic and developmental support to Palestine,” added the MEA.

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