President Pranab Mukherjee's intention was merely to touch upon the cultural common ground between India and Israel when he spoke about how much India loved hummus, the popular middle-eastern dip that is a favourite in Israel. Instead, he faced giant fireballs emerging from the eyes of Israeli parliamentarians he was addressing.
When the president, who speaks with the accent of his native tongue, Bengali, said 'Hummus', the Israel Parliament heard 'Hamas', the Palestinian militant group that has been at war with them for years.
In his address on Wednesday, Mukherjee said, "Indian population enjoy the taste of hummus, an Arab food item." He pronounced it as 'Hamas' instead of 'Hummus.'
The politicians were so baffled, they kept looking at each other after the reference.
Mukherjee today called for a peaceful resolution of all disputes to which the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by affirming that his country wanted to co-exist with Arabs but would firmly fight terrorism.
Mukherjee, the first Indian President to visit Israel, made a reference to the current violence in the region which has resulted in heavy Palestinian and Israeli casualties, during remarks he made at the Israeli Presidency where he was accorded a ceremonial reception by his Israeli counterpart, Reuven Rivlin.
He said, "we are distressed at the recent violence. India condemns all forms of terrorism. We have always advocated a peaceful resolution of all disputes".
Rivlin, in his response, said that India and Israel were "making history" by working together in a variety of fields and also in keeping "our peoples safe in the face of terrorism and fundamentalism".
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