Israel rolls out the red carpet for Modi; Iran talks Kashmir

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed into a diplomatic quagmire on Tuesday as he arrived to a warm welcome in Israel while keeping an eye on Iran.

Tehran has recently kept a low profile on Kashmir, but on Monday it called for a concerted effort to speak up for human rights in the disputed region.

Mr Modi is being played up by the media in Delhi as the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. However, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has been there as well as former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who as finance minister represented India at the high-profile funeral of Yitzhak Rabin.

Diplomatic ties were established with Israel in 1992, under the Narasimha Rao government.

However, fearing that doing so would rock the boat with Tehran, no Indian government allowed improving ties with Iran. If Mr Modi has slipped up on the diplomatic tightrope he would hear from Iran.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Monday urged his country’s judiciary to extend support to oppressed Muslims in India-held Kashmir, news agency Irna reported.

Mr Khamenei called on the Iranian judiciary to firmly declare support or opposition to legal and humanitarian issues, such as sanctions, terrorism and oppressed people in the world in order to reflect its stance on them “throughout the world”.

Mr Khamenei had met government heads and officials belonging to the judicial system, Irna said.

The Iranian leader also called on the judiciary to support Sheikh Zakzaky, a Nigerian Shia scholar who had been detained by the government.

He had, during an Eidul Fitr sermon, called upon the Muslim world to support the oppressed people of Bahrain, Yemen and Kashmir, in what is believed to be the first time he publicly called for support for Kashmir in seven years.

The last time he spoke about Kashmir, the Indian government had formally lodged a protest with Tehran. Mr Khamenei in 2010 had said: “The major duties of the elite of the Islamic Ummah is to provide help to the Palestinian nation and the besieged people of Gaza, to sympathise and provide assistance to the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Kashmir, to engage in struggle and resistance against the aggressions of the United States and the Zionist regime.”

Agencies add: Narendra Modi, who will not be meeting Palestinian officials while he is in Israel, was welcomed with an honor guard and warmly hugged Netanyahu as he descended from the aircraft.

“We receive you with open arms. We love India. We admire your culture, we admire your history, your democracy, your commitment to progress,” Netanyahu said.

“We view you as kindred spirits in our common quest to provide a better future for our peoples and for our world.”

The Indian premier was quick to return the compliments. “Alongside building a partnership for shared economic prosperity, we are also cooperating to secure our societies against common threats such as terrorism,” he said.