Prime Minister Narendra Modi's crucial visit to Israel later this year is in the "right order," senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Thursday said and hoped he will travel there with a "bipartisan" delegation.
Delivering the keynote address at an international conference, he also said terrorism has become a "major cementing factor" contributing to growing Indo-Israeli ties. "We have the PM's (Modi) visit to Israel coming up. (Israeli) President has set a precedent (by visiting India) and for this PM to undertake this visit after he has shored up his relationship with the Arab world in the Gulf countries, is in the right order, the right way to do it.
"Many expected the order to be reversed, but that would have been a mistake because of India's dependence on the Middle East for oil, and the 6-7 million Indians working in the Gulf countries, those positions should not have been jeopardised," Tharoor said.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's visit to India last November had set the stage for Prime Minister Modi's historic visit to the Jewish state which is likely to take place in the middle of this year.
"Having shored up the position of Indian government in those areas, I think the PM can travel with confidence toIsrael, feeling in many ways that what he is doing is something that speaks for India's independent foreign policy without in any way compromising its relationship with anybody else.
"And, I certainly hope that he travels with a bipartisan delegation of people from across the political spectrum, "Tharoor said.
The Lok Sabha member also shared that he had once joked with an Israeli ambassador that "our's is a love that dare not utter its name". "So much being done quietly and not acknowledged and PM'svisit would finally bring in that public acknowledgement," he said.
Tharoor said besides shared history, other factors have contributed to boosting ties, like terrorism. "What started off initially as a tactic of the Palestinians, as a people...to explicitly Islamist coloration, with some of the other entrants and variants in the terrorist cause.
"In India, similarly, some Kashmiris claiming greater autonomy, few arguing independence, took on explicit Islamist coloration, with the flourishing of groups like LeT, JeM, which drew inspiration much more from what they described the tenets of radical Islam or rather radical interpretation of Islam, rather than some national cause.
"So, the sense that we are facing similar threats from similar sources, this certainly contributed to the growing closeness, enhanced defence cooperation, increasing intensification of cooperation in areas of counterterrorism and intelligence sharing and sale of weapon systems fromIsrael to India, of which the most famous example is thePhalcon," he added.