"(Times of India) Why India looks set to finally come out of the closet on Israel- 2016 is expected to be the breakout year for India’s relationship with Israel, when it is likely to finally come out of the closet. • Shortly after Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru received a letter from Albert Einstein. It was a request, ahead of a crucial vote in the UN, for India’s support for a resolution proposing the partition of Palestine. It was one of India’s first foreign policy challenges, apart from Pakistan and apartheid. • “Nehru answered that India could not support this and cited reasons of national interest. Perhaps he was influenced by India’s own experience of partition. He strongly favoured a federation of two states, with a special regime for Jerusalem for… 10 years, to be followed by a referendum,”. • That set the template for India’s line on the Israel-Palestine conflict. It took about 45 years for Delhi to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. • The first fruits of this relationship were available during the Kargil war, when Israel provided prompt and generous help with technology and equipment supplies that proved critical in dislodging the Pakistani intruders. • In 2000, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visited Israel, the first Indian visits at that level since the establishment of ties eight years earlier. That same year, Jyoti Basu, then the tallest leader of the Left in India, and Najma Heptullah, the Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha who was then with the opposition Congress, travelled to Israel. • Bilateral defence and security cooperation picked up after the 2000 visits, and in September 2003, Ariel Sharon became the first Prime Minister of Israel to visit India. • Palestinian suicide bombers struck at two places in Tel Aviv while Sharon was in India, and he cut short the visit, skipping the scheduled Mumbai leg. Deputy Prime Minister Yosef Lapid told journalists in Delhi that the “very reason that brought us to India is responsible for the cutting short of the visit: Terror”. • External Affairs Minister S M Krishna did visit Israel in 2012 — but the focus, publicly at least, was mostly on cooperation in science and technology, agriculture and commerce, not defence and security. • The Narendra Modi government has brought the relationship out of the bag again, and public re-engagement on strategic areas has re-started. • The Indian side’s calibrated position at the UN on the resolution condemning Israel, where New Delhi abstained, was a shift in India’s approach. However, with Palestine, even the NDA government understands the sensitivities involved. Thus, Modi met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in September 2015 in New York. And in all public pronouncements, South Block has stressed India’s support to the Palestinian cause. This was reiterated not only during President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Palestine and Israel in October 2015, but also in the statements that India has made at the UN over the past year and a half. • 2016 is expected to be the breakout year for India’s relationship with Israel, when it is likely to finally come out of the closet. OTHER PRACTICE QUESTIONS

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