The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on May 16, 2017 received His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine at Rashtrapati Bhavan. He also hosted a banquet in his honour.
Narendra Modi is going to be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel and this had many wondering if India was stepping away from its long-held stance on the Palestine issue. Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas’ State visit to India was under scrutiny to see how he would respond to India’s increasing closeness to Israel. But the official meetings ended with a consensus on both sides that India’s commitment to Palestine remains the same.
The President said India iterated the great importance of the bilateral relations with Palestine which have gained momentum and expanded in recent years. He expressed hope that this visit will take the two countries cooperation further and diversify their relations for the benefit of both the people. He also expressed happiness over the fact that most of the projects announced during President’s visit to Palestine are taking shape.
The President said India’s commitment to the Palestinian cause and its friendship with the people of Palestine have become an integral part of its time tested foreign policy.
The President said India earnestly hopes for early resumption of talks between Palestine and Israel leading to the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine. We wish that the creation of a Palestinian State – that is a full member of the comity of nations, becomes your lasting personal legacy to your people. India has been happy to contribute to Palestine’s nation-building endeavour through technical and financial assistance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India strongly backs a political solution to the Israel-Palestine issue through sustained dialogue and said that he hopes for an early resumption of talks. He added that India has been “unwavering in its support of the Palestinian cause”.
“And, we hope to see the realisation of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, coexisting peacefully with Israel,” he said.
Abbas said that Palestine appreciated the solidarity that India extends to its cause.
India is a friend. It has influence at the international level. India can play an important role (in resolving the Palestine-Israel crisis).
Before Abbas landed in Delhi, Dr Majdi Khaldi, a senior Palestinian official, had called the India-Palestine relationship “steady”. He had said that India has the right to have relations with Israel or any other country and all that’s important to Palestine is that none of these are the cost of the long-standing relationship between India and Palestine.
The visit by PM Modi, scheduled for July, and the strong statements in support of Palestine that he made during President Abbas’ visit all signal that India no longer feels the need to downplay either of these bilateral relationships. Palestine seems secure in its belief that India supports its cause, and Israel’s trade and tourism ties with India seem unaffected by this.
India, on its part, is seemingly more aware of its own role in the West Asian region. It is working on the principle that lip service to the Palestinian cause and some monetary commitments to Palestine’s development are enough to keep its commitment to the nation alive. While this may seem like too little, it is no departure from the path that India has followed with Palestine for decades.
India has come to the conclusion that increasing its closeness to Israel doesn’t compromise its support for Palestine. It took India over four decades to decide to be friends with Israel but it took another two and half for it to stop treating that relationship like a secret.