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Rethink stand at UN: Israel to India
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | February 12, 2004 08:45 IST
Over the last two days Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom has met almost every crucial member of the Indian Cabinet, persuading them to rethink India's anti-Israel stand at the United Nations.
Israel has also decided to reopen its Mumbai consulate, which was one of those around the world shut last year due to financial constraints.
Though India and Israel established formal diplomatic relations only on January 29, 1992, the Mumbai consulate has been operating since 1953 -- that too just for Maharashtra and Kerala, where many Jews live.
"It is a sign of Israel's serious intention and growth in our bilateral relations," Shalom said on Wednesday of the decision to reopen the consulate.
"It is a very significant and symbolic step," an Israeli diplomat told rediff.com
Shalom pointed out that in recent years bilateral trade had grown to $1.6 billion.
"Besides, we are both Asian, both democracies and both are facing threat of terrorism from our neighbours. There are many things that the two sides can do to combat global terrorism, and to put an end to those who threaten us and our stability," he said.
It was in this context that he requested India to take a re-look at its voting pattern at the UN on resolutions regarding the Israel-Palestine standoff. India has 19 times voted in favour of anti-Israel resolutions, once abstained and never opposed any. That worries Israel, which is emerging as one of India's most strategic partners.
On Wednesday, Shalom met Defence Minister George Fernandes and both of them agreed to intensify military cooperation between the two countries, ink deals for supply of Phalcon airborne early warning systems and consider more supplies for Indian special forces.
Shalom also called on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his deputy Lal Kishenchand Advani and others to ask not to support the move at the International Court of Justice at The Hague against its security fence.
Some 30 countries have submitted a written demand to The Hague demanding the issue of fence be taken up.
On February 23, Israel has been asked to present its arguments before the court. It is possible that 'we may decide not to participate', Shalom said a few hours before he took off from India.
If all the defence supplies are not good enough, the Mumbai consulate is a statement of Israel's efforts to rekindle the historic ties to India where Jews were never persecuted.
And to get India to rethink its stand favouring Palestine, one dictated not just by India's support for the freedom movement of Palestinians but also by India's minority Muslim population and intrinsic ties with the Muslims nations around the world.