Modi may visit Palestine

Modi may visit Palestine

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may visit Ramallah soon to strike a balance between India's traditional support to the cause of Palestine and its growing ties with Israel.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit India next month, New Delhi is also exploring possibilities of an early visit of Modi to Palestine, sources said on Saturday.

India, of late, declined to toe the US line to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but refrained from reiterating its long-held view that eastern part of the holy city should be the capital of Palestine.

After US President Donald Trump formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, New Delhi stated that India's position on Palestine was not determined by any third country.

Palestine's envoy to New Delhi, Adnan Abu Alhaijaa, recently said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's government was looking forward to hosting Prime Minister of India.

Modi's visit to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in July sought to de-link India's relations with Israel and Palestine.

Indian dignitaries visiting Israel in the past had made it a point to visit Palestine, too. The then President Pranab Mukherjee had visited both Israel and Palestine in October 2015.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, too, had visited Palestine after touring Israel in January 2016.  

Modi, however, did not add Palestine in his itinerary when he visited Israel. His visit to Israel was the first by a Prime Minister of India.

India was the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestine way back in 1988.

But New Delhi's growing ties with Israel after the BJP's ascent to power in May 2014, fuelled speculations about India reviewing its position on Palestine.

The Modi government, however, made it clear that while India would continue to support the cause of Palestine, it would also seek to build stronger ties with Israel.

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