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BJP slams Left stand on Israel in Israel

By Harinder Mishra in Jerusalem
April 02, 2008 09:44 IST
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Describing Left's opposition to India's strategic relationship with Israel as an extension of its 'anti-US' stance, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj has said that the Jewish state was a 'reliable partner', and that the current government acknowledged it.

"The Left parties are basically anti-US and therefore countries that are seen as allies of Washington are disliked by them. They do not like whatever America does while we look at things on a case to case basis with regard to US," Swaraj, who is on a three-day visit to Israel as the chairperson of Indo-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, told PTI.

"We are not anti-US in principle, but we oppose its policies which are against India's interest. We do not oppose anything just because it is done by America," she said.

Swaraj stressed that ruling Congress-led government had not compromised on the 'continuity in the foreign policy' with regard to ties with Israel despite pressures from Left.

Lauding Israel for 'demonstrating its reliability during the Kargil war', the BJP leader said that India felt confident that its trust won't be let down.

"This is also one of the reasons why the current government has not accepted the demands of the Left parties," she said, adding that the concerns of Communists could not be seen as 'legitimate'.

The Left parties have been constantly asking the UPA government to severe military ties with Israel. However, as of now, India stands as the largest buyer of Israeli arms and the chiefs of the three defence forces have also visited the country during the last two years.

Highlighting a strong economic relationship between the two nations, Swaraj said bilateral trade between the two countries had registered an impressive growth reaching the $3.3 billion-mark.

Also, the recent visit by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who was accompanied by chief ministers of three states, had seen an enhanced cooperation in the sector where India can benefit a lot from the Israeli experience, she said.

The BJP leader held wide-ranging discussions with her Israeli counterpart Isaac Ben and other lawmakers, including Michael Eitan and former deputy defence minister Ephraim Sneh.

She rejected the charge that the National Democratic Alliance government had 'bowed down to pressures' in the Kandahar episode.

Asked why the government didn't do an 'Entebbe' kind of a rescue, the senior BJP leader said: "As far as the Kandahar incident is concerned, lives of 160 passengers were at stake. The media had also put a lot of pressure saying that their lives were in danger and a sort of consensus had evolved. Both the incidents cannot be seen compared."

Operation Entebbe was a rescue mission carried out by the Israel Defence Forces at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on July four, 1976 in which four hostages out of 246 passengers were killed and five Israeli commandos were wounded.

"Two incidents are never the same. If we recall the kind of joy we saw in the country when these people were released. We cannot draw right conclusions if we detach it from the context and compare it with something else today," she added.
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Harinder Mishra in Jerusalem
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