India

Indian PM claims he pursued Netanyahu to stop bombing during Ramadan

Narendra Modi also recalled the incident of his flying to Palestine through Jordan, escorted by Israeli flight attendants

Nirendra Dev, New Delhi

Updated: May 17, 2024 11:47 AM GMT

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an interview with India Today TV channel. (Photo: narendramodi.in)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, brushing aside allegations of being anti-Muslim during a crucial election time in India, claimed that he influenced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop bombing in Gaza during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.

It was the month of Ramzan. So, I sent my special envoy to Israel and asked him to convey and explain to the prime minister [Netanyahu] that at least not carry out bombings in Gaza during Ramzan. They [Israel] made every effort to follow it, but in the end, there was a fight for two or three days, Modi said in an interview with India Today TV channel.

Here, you keep on cornering me on the Muslim issue, but I didn't publicize it, he said.

Critics often accuse Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party leaders of speaking hate against Muslims as they pursue their sectarian politics, seeking votes to champion the cause of India's majority Hindus.

Modi highlighted that some other countries also tried to speak to Israel to stop the bombings. They may have got the results too. I also tried, he added.

Modi said he doesn't believe in token secularism, implying that some former prime ministers did so.

He said it was a custom for an Indian leader visiting Israel to visit Palestine, too. But I refused to do it, Modi said, adding that he conducted standalone visits to Israel and Palestine.

The prime minister recalled the incident of his flying to Palestine through Jordan.

When the president of Jordan, a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad, came to know that I was going to Palestine over [the airspace of Jordan], he told me, 'Modi ji, you cannot go like this. You are my guest and will use my helicopter,' he said.

I went to his home for dinner, but the helicopter was from Jordan, the destination was Palestine, and I was escorted by Israeli flight attendants. All three are different, but for Modi, they all came together in the sky. I believe all this happens when your intentions are good, he maintained.

Modi also denied he ever practiced sectarian or religion-based politics.

Imagine 700 people live in a village and a hundred beneficiaries of a certain scheme. I believe the 100 people should get it irrespective of their caste... there should not be any discrimination in governance, he said.

The prime minister said he and his party have not done Hindu-Muslim anywhere.  

I am explaining to the Muslims that they [the opposition Congress party] are making a fool out of you for 75 years..., Modi said.

In July 2017, Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, although both have had diplomatic relations for the past three decades.

In the past, however, the relationship has always been a balancing act, given India's sizable Muslim population and the country's dependence on oil imports from Arab countries and Iran.

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