Why did Modi skip Palestine? Israeli PM “broadcasts” the answer

A leaked audio of a conversation between Israeli PM and four European leaders gave away diplomatic details around PM Modi’s standalone visit to Israel

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

NH Web Desk

An audio of a leaked conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leader of four European countries has shed light on as to what prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to skip visiting Palestine when the Indian leader made a bilateral visit to Israel earlier this month.

While the discussion, caught on a body mic Netanyahu was wearing which he apparently forgot to turn off, centered around European Union’s (EU) criticism of Israel, the Israeli PM gave away a bit too much as he flaunted Tel Aviv’s close ties with India and China.

"We have a peculiar situation. The European Union is the only association of countries in the world that conditions the relations with Israel, that produces technology in every area, on political conditions. The only one," Netanyahu was quoted as saying earlier this week. The comments were first reported by Israeli news publication Haaretz, and were made in presence of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Czech Republic Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico.

The details of the meeting accidentally got broadcast to journalists in a nearby room because of the open microphone. The feed was cut off as soon as it was discovered.

Pointing towards Israel's growing technological collaborations with India and China, without such conditions, Netanyahu emphasised that Chinese President Xi Jinping called Israel an "innovation giant".

"We have a special relationship with China and they don’t care about the political issues," local media quoted him as saying.

Referring to Modi's recent visit to Israel, the first ever by an Indian PM, Netanyahu quoted Modi as telling him, “I need more water, clean water. Where will I get it…Ramallah,” Netanyahu quoted Modi as saying.

I need more water, clean water. Where will I get it…Ramallah.
Netanyahu quoted Modi as saying

Modi’s standalone visit to Israel was a prominent departure from India’s conventional foreign policy, as Palestine was part of itinerary of any Indian dignitary who visited Israel. Sections of Indian society saw Modi’s Israel visit as a signal that India, under the Modi government, was “abandoning” the cause of Palestinian statehood.

Netanyahu went on, "I think it is crazy, I think it is actually crazy. I am not talking about my interests, Israel’s interests; I m talking about Europe s interests."

"Europe is endangering its own development by endangering its ties with Israel over this crazy attempt to create conditions" for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, he said, adding that Israel is right there and Europe is disconnecting itself from this massive center of innovation.

"If this were only about my interests, I wouldn't have brought it up. Don't undermine the only country in the region that is looking after Europe's interests. Stop attacking Israel, support Israel," the Israeli premier warned.

Orban responded to Netanyahu in a conciliatory tone, saying that EU sets similar conditions to its member states as well.

"Europe must decide if it wants to live and prosper or wither and disappear. I see you're shocked because I'm not being politically correct," Netanyahu told the EU leaders in an unprecedented tirade.

He went on to further talk about his disagreements with former president Barack Obama and even accepted hitting arms transfers to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in Syria dozens of times, something the international media attributes to Israel but the Jewish state maintains ambiguity around it, neither accepting responsibility nor denying it.

"We had a big problem with US policy. It's different now.

There's a stronger stance against Iran. There's a renewed American presence in our region and more bombings, and that's positive," Netanyahu said.

"I told (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, when we see (Iran) transferring weapons to Hezbollah, we'll hit them.

We've done it dozens of times," he was heard as saying.

The hawkish leader was trying to convince his counterparts to communicate to their colleagues the need to push forward the EU-Israel Association agreement that has been frozen since Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008- 2009.

(with PTI inputs)

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 23 Jul 2017, 4:43 PM