New Delhi: India today announced a $10 million contribution to Palestine and pledged its support to Palestine’s bid for full and equal membership of the UN.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held comprehensive talks on host of bilateral issues and exchanged views on regional developments, particularly the developments in the West Asia and the Gulf region.
Three pacts, including one in the field of Information Technology, were also inked after the talks.
“Support for the Palestinian cause has been a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy. I reiterated India’s firm support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Singh said at a joint-press event with Abbas.
The prime minister said India supported an independent Palestine living within secure and recognised borders, side-by-side and at peace with Israel. He also announced that India will “contribute $10 million to Palestine’s budget for this year to help address its financial requirements”.
Singh noted that India had played an active role in supporting the efforts of the State of Palestine to secure full membership status at Unesco. “We will continue to support Palestine’s bid for full and equal membership of the UN.
“We also look forward to early resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis leading to a comprehensive resolution between the two sides,” he said.
Singh’s remark comes in the backdrop of the US making it clear that it will veto the Palestine bid for a non-member status in the United Nations later this month. At present, Palestinians only enjoy observer status.
“We continue to make clear that we believe that the only realistic path for the Palestinians to achieve statehood is through direct negotiations,” the prime minister said.
Singh said he and President Abbas, who is on his fourth visit here since 2005, held useful discussions aimed at further expanding and strengthening the India-Palestine partnership, which is “rooted in history and flows from our national ethos”.
“There is a great degree of similarity in our views. We both agree that the developments in the region must be addressed through political dialogue and peaceful means without recourse to violence and outside interference, while taking into account the legitimate aspirations of all people,” he said.
The three MoUs are for establishing India-Palestine centre of Excellence in ICT, for providing technical and vocational education training, training equipment and training services for Ministry of Labour’s vocational training in Palestine, and for construction and equipping of Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary School for girls in Asera Al Shamalyeh and Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary School for boys in Abu Dees.
Abbas thanked India for the financial contribution and for continued support to the Palestinian cause.
Recalling a letter written by Mahatma Gandhi to Professor Martin Buber in 1938, President Abbas said Gandhi had then said that whatever was happening in Palestine cannot be justified by any moral standards.
“What is going on in Palestine today, in 2012, still cannot be justified,” President Abbas said, adding that his government was committed to the peace process.