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Talk to Palestine, Israel tells India

February 09, 2006 18:11 IST

Israel on Thursday said India can contribute to the West Asia peace process by talking to both Palestinians and Israel, but asserted that it will not deal with the group till it shuns violence.

However, Israel added that the issue has to be resolved bilaterally.

Recently, the radical outfit Hamas won the Palestine elections, putting a question mark on the future of the peace process.

In an interview with PTI, Israel's Ambassador to India David Danieli said, "We are very much of the view that the issue should be resolved bilaterally between Israel and Palestinians. We wish it to be done directly across the negotiation table," he said amid apprehensions over the peace process after Hamas' victory.

On whether New Delhi can play a role in sustaining the peace process, the envoy said, "India certainly can contribute by having a dialogue with Palestinians and with Israel. India maintains equally good relations with both. So the ears of both sides are certainly open to hear Indian views."

He emphasised that Israel will have nothing to do with the Hamas, despite its electoral victory, till it renounced violence and recognised Israel's right to exist.

"One cannot expect Israel to engage in a political process with a terrorist entity. Hamas has been responsible for the killing of over 500 Israelis in the last two years alone," he said.

"If the Hamas wishes to move forward for a dialogue with Israel, it has to change. It has to climb down from the high tree and satisfy the demands put in by the international community," the envoy underlined.

Danieli, a career diplomat who has been in India for the last two-and-a-half years, also spoke on the growing cooperation between India and Israel in various sectors, including defence, agriculture and science and technology.

Asked about indications of Israel and Pakistan forging links for the first time, he said "I assure Indian friends that none will come at the expense of wonderful bilateral relations between Israel and India."

On Iran's nuclear issue, the Israeli envoy said his country shared the concerns of the international community and hoped for an 'appropriate solution that will alleviate our concerns as well as concerns of the international community in an adequate manner'.

Noting that Iran had declared hostility towards Israel, Danieli said his country was 'worried about the nature of Iran's nuclear programme'.

He, however, said that Tel Aviv did not feel it was a bilateral matter.  "This is a matter to be discussed, to be handled by the entire international community as a matter of priority," he said, adding the proper organs are the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Security Council.

On the Indo-Israel defence cooperation, Danieli said it had gone beyond the buyer-seller relationship to developing technology and equipment jointly.

Pointing out that the defence ties were growing steadily, the Israeli envoy said Tel Aviv was having joint cooperation with New Delhi 'practically in every aspect of the sector'.

Asked about the prospects of a civilian nuclear deal between India and Israel, he ruled out scope for any such development.

"Israel has no nuclear deals with any other country. So I don't see the scope for such a deal," Danieli explained.

He described as significant the visits of Ministers Kamal Nath, Sharad  Pawar and Kapil Sibal to Israel recently, saying it had helped further consolidate the 'robust' ties between the two countries.


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