At a time when diplomatic equations are being forged between Tel Aviv and Riyadh over Tehran, President Pranab Mukherjee is expected to visit Israel from October 13-15 after state-level visits to Jordan and Palestine.
As a first ever Indian President to travel to Palestine and Israel, Mukherjee will be out of country from Oct 9-15. His host, Israeli President Reuven Rivilin has apparently advanced his proposed visit to Czech Republic so that he is in time to receive Mukherjee in Tel Aviv.
Prior to his Israel trip, President Mukherjee will visit Amman in Jordan and Ramallah in West Bank for two days each. While in Israel, Mukherjee will visit histories cities of Jerusalem and Haifa.
Following Mukherjee’s trip, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are also expected to visit the region. The Indian PM was invited by his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting with Rivlin in Singapore on March 29.
While the previous UPA regime was not overt in its diplomatic relations with Israel due to domestic political sensitivities, the Modi regime is quite upfront in its ties with Tel Aviv. The visit of Israeli navy chief, vice-admiral Ram Rutberg, to India this week was not swept under the carpet with both sides openly discussing the joint development of Barak extended range ship based missile.
However, the President is going to Israel at a time when West Asia is under turmoil over rise of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and diplomatic rehabilitation of Iran.
“India can play a part of honest broker in the region due to presence of its diaspora and good relationship both with Saudi Arabia and Iran. The rise of extreme terror practiced by IS and the need to counter it will be subject of discussion during President Mukherjee’s visit to these countries,” said an official.
While Israel is a supplier of high end defence technologies, it is also one of the few countries that have helped India with arms and ammunition at a very short notice as was evident during Operation Parakram post December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament.