PM Narendra Modi to visit Jerusalem, says Palestine envoy

MAHMUD HAMS

A local expert on Middle Eastern politics believes a formal USA recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel wipes away any opportunity that there will be a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.

India, the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestinian statehood in 1988, has adopted a guarded position compared to much of the worldwide community that has come out unequivocally against President Donald Trump's decision to shift the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The government though avoided a direct criticism of the United States president's announcement.

Alihaij, who was participating in a discussion, said India has been supportive of the Palestinian cause and the two-state solution.

India reacted to Trump's announcement by saying its position on Palestine is independent, consistent and not determined by any third country.

However, India is not alone being in fix on the issue as the U.S. became the first country to recognize Israeli sovereignty over entire Jerusalem even when the worldwide community does not approve of it yet. India's response to Mr. Trump's statement came even as the Palestinian Ambassador to India declared that his country is likely to host Prime Minister Narendra Modi in near future.

Israel views Jerusalem as its undivided capital. PM Modi had skipped Palestine during his visit to Israel in July.

The US announcement has come at a time when India is gearing up for a high-profile visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to this country in January, marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

"The two prime ministers discussed the developments pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process", read the joint statement on the occasion of Modi's trip to Israel.

The Narendra Modi government made it clear that while India would continue to support the cause of Palestine, it would also seek to build stronger ties with Israel. "I have reaffirmed our position on this to President Abbas during our conversation today".

India enjoys close ties with both Israel and Palestine. The Arab world will obviously keep a close eye on the visit. All states of the Arab world are members of the OIC and in the last few years, India has been able to get support from some of these states on the issue of Kashmir and cross-border terror.

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