For her part, Sushma Swaraj insists, as recently as on 31 May, that there is no change in India’s policy towards Palestine; that India had never let down the Palestinian cause; and that it will continue to support it. Her ministry points out that New Delhi hosted Nabil Sa’ath, a special envoy of President Abbas, in November and earlier, in July, India had joined the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations to vote for a Palestinian-drafted resolution on “Ensuring respect for international law in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” in the UN Human Rights Council at Geneva.
A place in history
Modi looks set to reserve a place for himself in history by becoming the first Indian prime minister to set foot in Israel. And when that happens, he would only be following in the best traditions of continuity and change in India’s foreign policy; he would be carrying forward what Rao before him started.
As Bharat Karnad, a research professor in national security studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research tells Tehelka, “India–Israel relations have a potential that’s not yet been realised. For instance, in terms of Israel being used as a base for penetrating the European market. And, as I have argued for years, in terms of joint defence industrial complex with India producing conventional military hardware such as the Uzi submachine gun and Merkava tank for Indian and Israeli use and for export. I had written a paper some years ago that Uzi Landau, a former Israeli minister, showed great interest in.”
Yet, there are some others who wonder whether now is a good time, geopolitically, to engage Israel in a big way, especially when some countries in the Gulf and the Arab world are in a state of unprecedented flux. But, for now, Modi fans can be expected to wait in anticipation for a photograph of Modi at the Wailing Wall or a Modi selfie with Bibi.