India on Thursday refrained from reiterating its long-held view that eastern part of the holy city of Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine even as it declined to toe the U.S. line to recognise the holy city s the capital of Israel.
A local expert on Middle Eastern politics believes a formal US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel wipes away any opportunity that there will be a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians. Only last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a letter to the UN on the occasion of Palestine Solidarity Day, said India hoped for the early realisation of a sovereign, independent and united Palestinian state coexisting peacefully with Israel. He however did not answer if India would shift its embassy to Jerusalem in future.
He says Israel may find itself pressured to allow more Arabs to become Israeli citizens, since 200,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem.
"An independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, is the internationally accepted position".
India, over decades, has called for a "two-state" solution to end Israeli-Palestine conflict. "It is shaped by our views and interests and not determined by any third country", said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. Observers see this as a clear indication that the Indian embassy will continue to remain located in Tel Aviv which is recognised by nearly all countries as Israel's Capital. The Arab world will obviously keep a close eye on the visit.
In keeping with India's balanced and independent foreign policy approach, the Modi government, in fact, invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas here in May ahead of the prime minister's trip to Israel.
New Delhi has traditionally supported the Palestinian cause even as it opened diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992.
New Delhi is now set to host Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is likely to visit India next month.
India enjoys close ties with both Israel and Palestine.