Modi backs independence of Palestine from Israel

Ramallah: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he is “proud to be renewing friendship and support to Palestine” and that his country “holds on to the nobility of the Palestinian people’s interests” and hoped for establishing the independent Palestinian state by peaceful means. He highlighted that the support for the Palestinian cause has been a steady point in India’s foreign policy. The two countries signed four agreements worth 41 million U.S. dollars in various sectors, including education, health, media and women economic empowerment.

Modi’s visit  comes days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu visited India and more than six months after he visited Israel, clearly shows that New Delhi is firm on its foreign policy with Palestine and the two state solution, despite cozying up to the Jewish state. Besides the symbolic significance of the Palestine visit, the prime minister will also extend support towards material and infrastructural build in the country as even in the past it has continuously participated in the Palestinian nation-building and capacity building. So far, India has undertaken projects worth 30 million U.S. dollars in Palestine.

A clutch of bilateral pacts are also expected to be signed during Modi’s visit. He will also visit the India-Palestine ICT park, which is under construction and expected to create employment for young Palestinians. The Prime Minister will also inaugurate the Palestine Institute Diplomacy, a centre to train diplomats of Palestine which has been built with India’s assistance of 4.5 million U.S. dollars.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that Palestine counts on the pivotal Indian role in achieving peace and security cooperation between the two countries in combating terrorism, wherever it may be. Abbas’s statements came in a joint press conference he held with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was on his first ever visit to Palestine.

Abbas said “we count on India’s role, as a world power with significant weight and status to contribute to achieving just and aspired peace in our region, due to its impact on world security and stability.”

Abbas stressed that Palestinians have “never rejected negotiations any day; we were and still are ready for it, and believe that forming a multilateral mechanism of several states is the best approach to overlook those negotiations.”

Abbas gave Modi the highest medal of the state of Palestine as a sign of valuing friendship with India.

Prior to this visit, Modi said that he has “de-hyphenated” relations with Palestine and Israel, establishing “mutually independent and exclusive relations with both partners.”

India’s relationship with Israel has seen a significant development in the past few years, crowned with a recent multi-million dollars deal with Israel in military and hi-tech sectors.

Modi made his first ever visit to Israel in July last year, and Israeli Prime Minister paid back the visit last month.

India was one of the 120 UN member states that voted in favor of Palestine in the UN General Assembly resolution calling on the U.S. to retract its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December.

[xinhua]

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