A group of Indian activists has denounced Israel’s “undemocratic and exclusionary regime of apartheid” towards Palestine, as India welcomed Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for a week-long state visit.
“India’s economic linkage with Israel channels our public money through military deals to Israeli arms companies that transform these funds into lethal military technology applied in the oppression, colonisation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people,” a statement signed by 70 individuals and 30 organisations said.
“We are shocked that Israel, with its lawless conduct, has emerged as role model for the Indian nation-state, born in the struggle against colonialism and committed to peaceful relations in the neighbourhood.”
The criticism coincided with a welcome speech given by Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee in a state dinner hosted for Rivlin on Tuesday.
Mukherjee said India admires “the people of Israel for all that you have accomplished”, according to a transcript of his speech released on Wednesday.
“We both have remained firmly committed to democratic values and continue to strive for our common goals of global security and peace,” he said.
Rivlin is the first Israeli president to visit India in 20 years, and it comes as the two countries celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations.
The group of activists also warned against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reported visit to Israel, saying “there is nothing to celebrate” about the relationship, “neither for the Palestinian people nor for Indian citizens who cherish human rights, democracy and peace.”
The group said that Israel is “using” the Indian market and tax money “to finance its crimes and to promote world views built on walls, wars, and exclusion.”
On Tuesday, the two countries announced they were expanding cooperation, particularly in the defence sector.
Earlier, Modi said Rivlin’s trip would give a “crucial push” to bilateral ties.
India has bought an estimated $12bn worth of defence equipment from Israel over the past decade, making it the third-largest supplier to India after Russia and the United States.
India and Israel had also decided to intensify cooperation in fighting terrorism and boosting trade and investment, Modi said.
Meanwhile, Rivlin said his visit “will help the ties and the cooperation between the two countries.”
Rivlin is accompanied by delegations of businessmen and academics for his week-long visit.