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Doval-Netanyahu Meeting: Encouraged By US To Pressure Israel On Gaza?

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s visit to Israel and the meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, may have been driven by two factors: the US need to push the Israeli leader into a ceasefire and dialogue so as to lessen the horrific Palestinian body count in Gaza. It costs India nothing to do so as what the world wants is substantially what India wants. Not that Doval or the External Affairs Ministry would have any illusions about Netanyahu listening to them when he is not giving an inch to the Americans, his long-time partner and ally. But as an expression of solidarity with the US, Doval’s visit has its value.

So the bland statement issued at the end of Doval’s chit chat with Netanyahu was as per form where “he briefed the NSA and updated him on recent developments in the fighting in the Gaza Strip. The two sides also discussed the effort to release the hostages and the issue of humanitarian assistance.”

Doval may have raised delays in the supplies of certain military or related hardware to India. It’s very likely that the Gaza war may have affected Israel’s ability to sustain the supply chain with India. Doval may have got certain assurances and would have to be satisfied with given Israeli priorities and preoccupations.

This is the first high-profile visit by an Indian leader to Israel since the Hamas attacks on October 7, last year. The visit comes after the death of an Indian worker Patnibin Maxwell, in Israel last week. Taking to X Israel’s ambassador to India, Naor Gilon wrote that “A high-level delegation from @IsraelMFA, Ministry of Agriculture, led by Minister of Interior, Moshe Arbel, and his senior team, went to pay respects to Patnibin Maxwell-The Indian national who was killed by Hezbollah rocket while working in a farm. Om Shanti.”

No less than Prime Minister Modi had backed Israel in the wake of the Hamas attack, saying “India stands in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour.”

Days later, India calibrated its support by reiterating its long-standing support to the Palestinian cause.

“Our policy has been longstanding and consistent. India always advocated the resumption of direct negotiations towards establishing a sovereign, independent, and viable state of Palestine, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side at peace with Israel. I think that position remains the same,” the MEA spokesman said.