Special Reports

India reaches out to Palestine

+ Pix

E. Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs and HRD, paid a two-day official visit to Palestine during 18-19 Nov. in connection with the inauguration of projects under IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) Joint Venture.

Ahamed on his arrival at Ramallah on 18 November, offered his Friday prayers at Masjid Al-Aqsa in Occupied Jerusalem.  Thereafter, he visited the Mausoleum of the Freedom Fighter and Khilafat Leader, Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar in the Aqsa compound. During the visit to Jerusalem, Ahamed was accompanied by the Head of Auqaf Council, Mr. Abdul Azim Salhab and Director, Department of Tourism & Archeology of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dr. Yusuf Natsheh.

Later in the day the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Mr Filippo Grandi called on the Minister who handed over a cheque of US$ 1 million as India’s annual contribution for the year 2011-12  to be utilized  for ‘providing daily supplement of food assistance to more than 76,000 students attending UNRWA schools in Gaza for 50 school days under UNRWA’s Emergency Programme in Gaza strip. Both the dignitaries also discussed issues of future cooperation. The Minister assured UNRWA of the Government of India’s continued support in its operations and in its efforts to alleviate the sufferings of Palestinian refugees. It may be noted that Government of India has since long been contributing annually to the UNRWA’s budget and since 2009-10 enhanced its annual contribution to US$ 1 million, in addition to a special contribution of US$ 1 million which was paid to UNRWA in response to a flash appeal in 2010.

Ahamed, accompanied by Rajeev Shahare, Joint Secretary, MEA and Indian Ambassador in Jordan, RR Dash, reached Palestine through Allenby Bridge at Jordan-Palestine Border.   Ahamed was received at the Border by the Indian Ambassador to Israel Mr. Navtej Sarna and the Representative of India in Palestine, Mr. Biswadeep Dey.

Next day, Ahamed participated in the inauguration of a Sports Complex Ramallah under IBSA project.  The IBSA Sports Centre is the first project completed by IBSA funding for the Palestinian National Authority as a gift from people of IBSA countries to the people of Palestine. This also happens to be the first IBSA project in the entire Middle East. There are two more projects in Palestine which are coming up with IBSA funding. One of them is the rehabilitation of the “Al Quds Hospital” in Gaza and the other is the construction of a “Centre for People with Special Needs” in Nablus.

During the inauguration, Minister Ahamed siad that “the Government and the people of India remain committed to assist the Palestinian people in their exercise of nation-building in all sectors, including areas of niche expertise. Our support to the Palestinian people is not limited only to economic and humanitarian support but we have a long history of supporting the “Palestinian cause’.” He reminded that India supported Palestine even before she herself attained independence in 1947. In 1975, India was the first non-Arab state to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organisation as sole and legitimate representative of Palestinian people. In 1980, we accorded full diplomatic recognition of PLO office in New Delhi. In 1988, within no time of its declaration, we recognised the state of Palestine, he said.

Minister Ahamed further said that “the issue of Palestine has taken a decisive turn in the history of Middle East conflict after President Abbas filed an application with Secretary General of the United Nations for Palestine’s full membership to the United Nations. You may recall my Prime Minister’s speech in the General Assembly that India has been steadfast in its support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for a sovereign, independent, viable and United State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders side by side and at peace with Israel, as per the relevant resolutions of the organization, the Arab Peace Initiative and Quartet roadmap.”

Minister Ahamed added, “During my long political career, I have had the honour to work closely with Palestinian leaders. I had met the undisputed leader of Palestinian people late President Yasser Arafat on 17th September 2004 at Ramallah, just a few months before he left his earthly abode. At that meeting, I had the opportunity to reiterate India’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and support for their cause. He had warmly recalled his close relations with Indian leaders, particularly Mrs Indira Gandhi and Mr Rajiv Gandhi, and appreciated India’s unwavering support for the cause of the Palestinian people. We have continued our interactions with the Palestinian leadership under President Abbas. He has paid state visits to India in 2008 and 2010.”

The Minister also called on President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki for bilateral discussions and attened a lunch hosted by the President in his honour.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2011 on page no. 17

We hope you liked this report/article. The Milli Gazette is a free and independent readers-supported media organisation. To support it, please contribute generously. Click here or email us at sales@milligazette.com

blog comments powered by Disqus