India has reaffirmed its support to Palestine once again, making clear that there will be no change in New Delhi’s ‘West Asia’ policy in the coming years.
During his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in New Delhi on May 4, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he hoped to “see the realisation of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, co-existing peacefully with Israel”. The two leaders discussed various aspects of bilateral ties and agreed to take every necessary step to strengthen relationships between the two “friends”. Later, Modi told the media: “Both sides, through practical co-operation, will work together to build Palestine’s economy and contribute to improving the lives of its people. We will continue to support the development and capacity-building efforts of Palestine.”
They further discussed the current political situation in West Asia and the status of the ongoing Palestine-Israel peace process. Although President Abbas requested India to intervene in Palestine-Israel conflict, Modi rejected the request, saying that it would not be possible for India to play a mediator’s role due to the current political scenario in the region. However, he assured the visiting president that New Delhi would urge Israel to resolve the crisis through peaceful negotiation.
In the presence of Prime Minister Modi and President Abbas, senior Indian and Palestinian officials signed agreements in different sectors, like agriculture, healthcare, youth affairs, sports and technology, and electronics. A visa exemption pact for officials of both countries was also signed.
Before holding talks with the Indian premier, the Palestinian leader visited the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in northern Indian city of Noida. He thanked India for offering to help Palestine build a similar techno-park in Ramallah. “Once completed, it will serve as an IT hub in Palestine offering a one-stop solution for all IT-related training and services,” stressed Modi. Ahead of his visit to Israel, the Indian premier declared that the South Asian powerhouse would continue to assist developmental projects in Palestine.
Meanwhile, Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel on July 5-6. Later, American President Donald Trump will visit Israel and Palestine. Experts believe that President Trump’s first overseas tour will give fresh oxygen to the struggling Palestine-Israel peace process.
Martin Indyk of Brookings Institution has said that although the American president is very pro-Israel in his outlook, he surprised the Israelis by asking them to stop settlement activity and not to make the two-state deal more difficult.
The former American special envoy to the region believes that President Abbas is under tremendous pressure, as Palestine’s top Arab supporters have been trying hard to overthrow him. According to the seasoned political analyst, the global rise of Islamic terror groups, such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State, and the Arab revolutions have robbed the Palestinian cause of “altitude”. So, President Abbas has decided to boost ties with India and America, added Indyk. Abbas’ May 4-7 visit to India was aimed at ensuring New Delhi’s support to the Palestinian cause.