Need to review ties with Israel
The Statesman, August 13, 1991
India must re-examine its attitude to Israel and upgrade its
diplomatic relationship to ambassadorial level with that
country, Professor M.L. Sondhi of the Jawaharlal Nehru
University who is the convener of the just-established
Sanskrit-Hebrew Society, said today.
The launching of the Society in India has been
whole-heartedly welcomed by Mr. Yosef H. Ben-Aharon,
Director-General of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office who
also serves as the senior adviser on foreign policy affairs,
and Dr. Shimon Avimor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
and Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Asia-Africa Research Unit,
besides other Israeli scholars and members of Parliament.
Mr. Sondhi said in a statement today that raising of the
diplomatic status from the present consulate to embassy
level had become urgent because of the convening of the West
Asia Peace Conference sponsored by the United States and the
Soviet Union to be held in October.
This peace conference will have EEC and UN as observers and
will be attended by Israel, Syria, Egypt, a joint
Jordan-Palestine delegation and an observer representing the
Gulf Cooperation Council. Using the Security Council
Resolutions numbers 242 and 338 as the basis, the conference
will usher in direct negotiations between Israelis and Arabs
through parallel talks between Israelis and the Arabs and
Israelis and Palestinians to resolve all outstanding issues
of the region.
The conference is being held in the context of the Arab
willingness to reverse their earlier position and agree to
direct negotiations. Also, Syria has agreed to direct,
unconditional negotiations with Israel.
Mr. Sondhi pointed out that to safeguard India’s political,
economic and strategic interests, New Delhi must act quickly
and the Prime Minister, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, should
propose New Delhi as the venue of the conference to help the
momentum towards peace. It was not beyond the realm of
possibility that Pakistan which is known for its agile
diplomacy may give recognition to Israel and steal the show
as the South Asian representative at the conference.
He said the conference would first, lay down the guidelines
for peace in the region and secondly commence bilateral
negotiations among the respective parties. But there would
also be a third phase which will revolve around regional
issues such as water and environment. Japan is making a
serious bid to enter the third stage of the peace conference
and might assume the leadership role for Asia.
Therefore, India which has historic relationship with West
Asia will find itself out in the cold unless it takes “time
by the forelock” and becomes a willing partner in the peace
process. “Out of mistaken considerations, if we hold on to
an out of date policy, we will have none but ourselves to
blame,” he added.