Before boarding the plane to New York where he will address the UN General Assembly on Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that in his speech to the forum, "he will deflect all the lies about us, and tell the truth about the heroic soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world."
Netanyahu's parting comments follow Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas's speech at the UN on Friday, in which he accused Israel of "committing genocide in Gaza" and “missing no opportunity to undermine the chance for peace,” while “seeking the continuation and entrenchment of the occupation.”
Netanyahu's visit to the United States looks to confront Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and Palestinian unilateralism. The prime minister will also meet with US President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday.
The prime minister's first scheduled engagement on the sidelines of the General Assembly will be with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The meeting will be the first between the two leaders as well as the first high profile meeting between an Israeli and Indian prime minister since Ariel Sharon visited New Delhi in 2003.
An Israeli government official stated on Sunday that "India and Israel have expanded cooperation throughout the years and this meeting demonstrates an increase in that cooperation and will also serve as a catalyst for future cooperation."
Sunday's meeting is being considered a positive turning point in Israeli-Indian relations since Modi was elected prime minister in 2014.
India's Congress Party, which Modi's BJP ousted in May elections, has often been vociferously critical of Israeli policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Most recently the party decried the IDF's actions in Operation Protective Edge in the Indian Congress. However Israeli-Indian relations have been extensive for years throughout the party's rule both in security and economic cooperation, if mostly low profile.
Modi, India's first Hindu-nationalist prime minister in a decade, embraces a strain of politics that maintains India's culture is essentially Hindu, although his Bharatiya Janata Party says such a culture is welcoming to other religions.
He has said fears that he will favor India's Hindu majority over its large religious minorities, including some 170 million Muslims, are unfounded.
Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat when days of religious riots raged across the northwestern state in 2002 after a Muslim mob set alight a train carrying Hindu pilgrims, killing 59 people. More than 1,000 people were killed in the riots, most of them Muslims.
Critics have accused Modi of allowing the riots to happen, but courts have found no evidence to indict him.
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