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    India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi reads a joint statement with his British counterpart Theresa May (unseen) at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, November 7, 2016

    Indian PM’s Skipping Palestine on Israel Visit Draws Criticism From Muslim MP

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    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision not to visit Palestine during his Israel visit, which begins on Tuesday, has drawn criticism from a Muslim parliamentarian who believes that it will “strengthen [Israel’s] occupation of West Bank and Gaza” by the Jewish state.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Asaduddin Owaisi, president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) political party, said in Hyderabad that PM Modi not visiting Palestine is a major change in the foreign policy of India under this government.

    “The Prime Minister, during his three-day visit, is not visiting the occupied territories, which Indian leaders in the past have visited. Whenever any Indian leader went to Israel, while maintaining ties with Israel, have also reaffirmed our support to the Palestinian cause,” PTI quoted Owaisi as saying. "That has been the cornerstone of our foreign policy."

    “Agenda now is that the cause of Palestine is no dearer to this particular government,” the parliamentarian added.

    Owaisi also questioned the government’s policy of giving defense contracts to Israeli companies which were previously blacklisted.

    Indian experts, however, welcomed Modi not clubbing a visit to Palestine in his three-day itinerary to Israel. Delinking Palestine policy from ties with Israel is seen in India as a bigger achievement of the Modi government.

    “Today India’s Israel policy is pragmatic, based on its strategic interests and no longer dependent on its Palestine policy. From the wary association of the Cold War period to a deepening strategic partnership, the India-Israel relationship has come a long way. The first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Israel is the final stamp on India’s changing diplomacy towards Israel that began in 1992. India’s foreign policy towards Israel today is pragmatic, independent of its Arab policy and grounded in strategic and security realities,” Dr. Ashok Sharma, adjunct faculty at the University of New South Wales, Canberra at Australian Defence Force Academy and deputy chair of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Auckland, told Sputnik.

    Modi’s visit, which begins on Tuesday, will be the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister. It will commemorate 25 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries with the Indian Prime Minister also holding talks on a range of issues with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

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    visit, policy, Narendra Modi, Palestine, Israel, India
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