As ties between New Delhi & Jerusalem continue to strengthen, Modi gov’t looking into changing India’s UN vote on Palestinian recognition from ‘yes’ to ‘abstain.’
India is said to be considering changing its vote in favor of the Palestinians at the UN General Assembly to one of abstention, The Hindu reported on Sunday, citing two sources within the Indian government.
“Like other foreign policy issues, the Modi government is looking at India’s voting record at the United Nations on the Palestinian issue,” The Hindu quoted a government source as saying.
A second source said the change only needs an administrative nod.
Defense and diplomatic ties between India and Israel have been growing exponentially, with the recent election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi strengthening the ties even further.
While in New York in September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Modi to discuss security and development matters.
“We are very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky’s the limit,” Netanyahu told reporters, describing the countries as “ancient civilizations” that are also democracies.
Modi echoed Netanyahu’s sentiment. “I agree with you that the ties between Israel and India are historic ties.”
India has recently signed a $525 million deal to buy at least 8,000 Israeli-made Spike anti-tank guided missiles and more than 300 launchers. Military business ties between the two countries are estimated at $9-10 billion.
In the latter half of 2013, agreements were signed with Israeli company Tower Semiconductor and a Swiss company to open two semiconductor fabrication plants (one of which would be in Gujarat) at a cost of $10.4 billion.
The two plants are projected to create 22,000 jobs. Indian consumption of the semiconductor products for electronic chips to be made at the plants is due to rise from $7 billion in 2014 to $55 billion in 2020, paving the way for investment in additional plants.
But while former Indian government maintained close ties with Israel, former prime ministers were wary about changing New Delhi’s stance on the Palestinian issue.
Israel, the Hindu reported, became frustrated that the close ties had not resulted in a change in India’s position on the Palestinians. The paper quoted a senior Israeli official as saying New Delhi was treating Jerusalem like a “mistress,” hiding its bilateral relationship with Israel from the Indian public.
New Delhi only established relations with Israel in 1992, a delay often attributed by analysts to potential concerns within India’s Muslim minority and the developing nation’s need to preserve relations with wealthy Arab states.
But India quickly developed relations with Israel during the last government of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which emphasizes Hindu identity. In 2003, Ariel Sharon paid the first visit by an Israeli prime minister to New Delhi.
The left-leaning Congress party that took power in 2004 took a greater distance from Israel, despite meetings at the ministerial level. Nonetheless, two-way trade has soared from $200 million in 1992 to $6 billion, according to New Delhi’s figures, and India has been an alluring market for Israel’s defense industry.
Israel was one of the few countries visited by Modi before his election as prime minister.
AFP contributed to this report.
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