India unlikely to support US move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel capital

By Elizabeth Roche, 2017-12-07 06:52:44

New Delhi: India on Thursday indicated that it was unlikely to support a US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel stating that it would take an independent stance on the subject.

“India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country,” an Indian foreign ministry statement quoting spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.

With Wednesday’s announcement by Trump, the US became the first country to recognize Israeli sovereignty over entire Jerusalem—something the international community does not—believing its status should be resolved in negotiations. No country has its embassy in Jerusalem.

According to Pinak Chakravarty, formerly secretary economic relations in India’s foreign ministry and who was posted in Israel at the time India opened an embassy in the Jewish country in 1992, it was clear from the response that New Delhi “would not support the Trump administration’s policy on this.”

India’s comment comes at a time when it is readying for a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January as the two countries mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment diplomatic relations. PM Narendra Modi in July paid a standalone bilateral visit to Israel—the first ever by an Indian prime minister—opening a new chapter in bilateral relations by bringing ties out of the closet as it were and into the open.

India has traditionally supported the Palestinian cause and opened diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992 when the two sides came together for peace talks under US auspices.

It has since balanced ties with Arab countries where it has a sizeable diaspora presence and deep energy ties on the one hand, and Israel on the other.

However, since the Modi government took office in May 2014, India-Israel ties have gained more prominence.

But in a letter to the UN last week, Modi said India hopes for the early realization of a sovereign independent and united Palestinian state coexisting peacefully with Israel. In the letter on the occasion of Palestine Solidarity Day, Modi reiterated India’s “steadfast support” to the Palestinian cause while recalling India’s development assistance to Palestine.

In a televised address late Wednesday, US President Trump announced that his administration would begin a process of moving the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem—home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions—is one of the biggest obstacles to reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump’s decision fulfills a campaign promise and will please Republican conservatives and evangelicals who make up a sizeable portion of his domestic support.

Source: Livemint

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