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Israel envoy calls on BJP

New Delhi, July 18: Israel’s deputy chief of mission in India, Yahel Vilan, met BJP leaders at the party headquarters this morning, ahead of a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Monday on the country’s air and ground assaults on Palestine.

The meeting was held to “explain what exactly was going on” on the ground.

As the BJP cast a shroud of secrecy on the talks, sources said party representatives, including general secretary J.P. Nadda, new inductee Ram Madhav and Lok Sabha MPs Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Jayant Sinha, restated the standpoint contained in a resolution adopted at the BRICS summit.

India is a signatory to the resolution that stressed that Israel and Palestine must resume negotiations leading to a “two-state solution with a contiguous and economically viable Palestinian state existing within mutually agreed and internationally recognised borders based on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

After the meeting, Vilan was quoted by a news channel as saying: “Have been under fire from Hamas for last 10 days, showed restraint before retaliating to protect our citizens. Met BJP leaders to brief them about the situation.” The diplomat alleged that the attacks were “started” by Palestine and that Israel was “forced” to answer when the going got unbearable.

Vilan was told the Rajya Sabha MPs want a “debate” on the issue. The essence of the BJP’s viewpoint — expected to be reflected in foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s reply to the discussion — was that India was “deeply concerned” over the violence and that it was “incumbent” on Israel to “find ways of bringing peace soon in the region”.

The diplomat was also told that as a “strong democracy”, India believes in the idea of “peaceful co-existence” of nations.

A section of the BJP was against raising the Gaza violence in Parliament on the ground that “in the fight between two countries we do not gain anything”, as a senior minister put it.

Calls to the Palestinian embassy to ask if their envoys had sought a similar meeting with the BJP went unanswered. Asked if the Palestinians had sought time, a BJP source replied in the negative.

To the non-BJP parties, the siege of Gaza is something they cannot watch “unconcerned”. The killings of women and children have provoked a strong reaction in India’s Muslim community and Urdu press that has questioned why Israel is “determined to liquidate” Palestine’s civilians during Ramazan.

The BJP did not bring up the timing of the attacks during the fasting season with the envoy.