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Saffron goof-up in Israel

Jerusalem, May 22 (PTI): A visiting Indian delegation today unwittingly got caught in an Israeli domestic controversy when BJP members were asked to remove their saffron scarves before entering the country’s parliament.

The colour is linked to those opposing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plans to evacuate Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip.

Vijay Jolly, a BJP MLA who led the delegation, was asked to take off the scarves before entering the Knesset because the colour has become associated with those opposing Sharon’s evacuation plan, the army radio reported. The scarves had lotus symbols at one end.

“The guards simply asked Mr Jolly to leave the saffron coloured scarves out and to enter with other mementoes,” Ya’aron Abimarov, a guide accompanying the delegation, said.

“They were not barred from entering,” Abimarov said. The army radio said the guards at the Knesset entrance were alarmed thinking them to be anti-disengagement plan protesters.

The orange colour, quite similar to saffron, has become the symbol of resistance for the settler community in the Gaza strip and posters and flags of the colour are a common sight among their sympathisers across the country.

“We were never debarred from entering the Knesset. It was a little ridiculous on the part of the overzealous security guards but it has been blown out of proportions. We all stand for strengthening Indo-Israel relations,” Jolly said.

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