Narendra Modi to become first Prime minister to visit Palestine

11 February, 2018, 08:58 | Author: Wade Massey
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With a multi-lateral mechanism, Abbas was referring to a framework that would apparently replace the US' long-standing monopoly as a mediator in the vexed Middle East peace talks. But so far, he has failed to win such commitments.

European leaders have criticized Trump's dramatic policy shift on Jerusalem, but appear unwilling to confront Washington over its handling of more than two decades of failed efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian partition deal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the Palestinian city of Ramallah on Saturday, ANI reported.

The Indian leader pledged $41 million for a hospital, three schools and other projects in the West Bank.

However, Modi's visit to Ramallah comes at a time when the United States has taken a stance to recognise the disputed territory of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel unilaterally while India chose to vote in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution opposing the move made by Washington.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday concluded his historic Palestine visit, the first by any Indian Prime Minister.

Modi will also lay a wreath at the memorial for Yasser Arafat, a close friend of India who headed the Palestine Liberation Organization and later the Palestinian National Authority till his death in 2004. After paying homage to Arafat, Mr Modi took a short tour of the Arafat Museum located adjacent to the mausoleum.

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India was one of the earliest champions of the Palestinian cause but in recent years turned to Israel for high-tech military equipment and anti-terrorism cooperation.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump's Jerusalem move causing loss of mediator's credibility in the Middle East crisis has given a fillip to India's position in the worldwide arena.

"We never have and never will reject negotiations", said Abbas.

In a joint press conference in Ramallah, Abbas said, "We have never rejected negotiations; we have been and are still ready for negotiations", and suggested that a multilateral global mechanism involving many countries is the best way to sponsor negotiations. "The Arabian Sea links to the Gulf and to Suez and has a significant importance and therefore the positive connect we can have with the UAE will be of great significance to India", Ms Sitharaman said.

Israel staunchly opposes any global framework for negotiations, arguing that only the US can be a fair broker. He had travelled to Palestine after visiting Israel. "We know that it's not easy, but we should keep striving because a lot is at stake", he said in a joint press conference with President Abbas.

Ms Sitharaman said that during his visit past year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, had shown a keen interest in the defence industry.

On his part, President Abbas acknowledged that the Indian leadership has always stood by peace in Palestine.


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