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Narendra Modi's maiden Israel visit unlikely to evoke Arab backlash, says former Indian diplomat

Hyderabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi skipping Palestinian authority headquarters Ramallah during his Israel visit is unlikely to evoke any negative reaction in the Arab countries, says a former Indian diplomat.

It was for the first time that an Indian leader went to the Jewish state without visiting Ramallah.

Asked if there would be "murmurs" in the Arab world over Modi's stand-alone visit to Israel, Talmiz Ahmad, who had served as Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, said the Arab world itself is a deeply divided lot now.

"The phrase Arab world does not reflect the ground reality. There is a very deep divide in the Gulf Cooperation Council, so is there in the Arab League and there is actual conflict between the Arab countries - even as I speak to you - in Syria and Yemen," he told PTI.

File image of Benjamin Netanyahu with Narendra Modi. PTI

Benjamin Netanyahu with Narendra Modi during the Indian's prime minister's Israel visit. PTI

Ahmad said there is no such thing as a monolithic Arab world and, in fact, many of the Arab countries are directly dealing with Israel.

"Saudi Arabia has opened dialogue with Israel, the UAE is also in touch with Israel. Earlier, Qatar used to be in touch with Israel. So, there is no question ... what India has done is not likely to evoke any negative reaction in the Arab countries," he said.

Ahmad also said following the prime minister's visit, there would be considerable expansion in the defence cooperation with new items, including some sensitive ones, being imported by India, where they would be manufactured to a considerable extent.

"I think at least, some of those items will be manufactured in India. So, there is a commitment from Israel with regard to participation in 'Make in India,'" he said.

Israel caters to India's niche requirements and fills capability gaps in defence hardware. "Even though the amount involved may not be much, those are important items for India's security," Ahmad said.

He also said India earlier used to place its relations with Israel "on par with what we call Palestinian cause."

"Now, those are separate issues. One is bilateral relations with Israel and second is bilateral relations with Palestine authority. This government has decided that there is no need to link the two things," according to him.

In the joint statement, he noted, there is a reference to Palestine issue. "So, it (separating the two) is not 100 per cent de-hyphenated, in the sense that there is a concern over the Palestine issue which India has articulated."

Updated Date: Jul 07, 2017 17:44 PM

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