India refrains from seeking East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine

India refrains from seeking East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine

In the wake of the United States under the Trump Administration recognising Jerusalem as Israel's Capital and planning to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, India on Thursday made it clear that it had no such intention of following suit.

"An independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, is the internationally accepted position".

Alhaijaa's remarks came on a day the UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting on Friday on the United States government's move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

India with its historical relations with the Ottoman and Persian empires, Iraq and the Gulf, besides Egypt, Morocco and other North African states, have navigated complexities of the Arab World in a rather smooth fashion.

Though some nations maintain consulates in Jerusalem without recognising them as a diplomatic mission to either Israel or Palestine, New Delhi does not have any in the fiercely contested city.

A local expert on Middle Eastern politics believes a formal USA recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel wipes away any opportunity that there will be a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.

New Delhi's long-held view was last articulated in India's statement presented at a committee of the United Nations General Assembly in NY on December 5, 2016.

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India stopped calling for East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine this year.

However, Mr. Modi ahead of his July visit to Israel had indicated that India would decide on Israeli claims on the holy city after the two sides come to a consensus.

It may be recalled that then President Pranab Mukherjee visited Jordan, Israel and Palestine in 2015.

Mukherjee had visited both Israel and Palestine. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, too, had visited Palestine after touring Israel in January 2016, just as one of her predecessors, S M Krishna, had done in October 2012.

India, the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestinian statehood in 1988, has adopted a guarded position compared to much of the global community that has come out unequivocally against President Donald Trump's decision to shift the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

India's ambivalent position stood out not just because of New Delhi's traditional advocacy of the Palestinian cause but also in comparison to the sharp reactions Trump's decision has evoked both in the Arab world and elsewhere, including Russian Federation, the UK, France, Germany, China, the European Union and the UN.