Analysts say the trip aims to address perceptions that New Delhi has been developing close ties with Israel.

 

Edappakath Ahamad's three-day visit beginning on Friday is hoped to prove the government's commitment and support to the Palestinian cause, a foreign ministry statement said.

 

Ahamad will also meet Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath, the statement added.

 

The new Congress-led government which took office in May reiterated in its first policy blueprint India's commitment to the Palestinian people for a homeland of their own.

 

In 1992, under a Congress-led government, India resumed diplomatic ties with Israel after treating the country like a pariah state for decades.

 

Military links

 

Under the Hindu nationalist government which lost power in May, India forged close military links with Israel and acquired military hardware at a cost of a billion dollars.

 

But the new government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has preferred to follow a more nuanced approach, according to analysts.

 

"The present government is following a policy of trying to find the right balance," said C Uday Bhaskar of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses.

 

"It is a prudent gesture ... there was a perception that India was ignoring the interests of the Arab people," he said, adding that high-level contacts would help redress such perceptions.

 

"India has an abiding interest in [the Middle East] and the situation there cannot be seen in a black and white manner.

 

"Many countries are following a nuanced policy with both these constituencies and India is no exception," he said.