Our support for Palestine remains steadfast, says Pranab

India backs Russian military involvement in Syria, but calls for a long-term political solution.

October 11, 2015 10:53 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 03:54 pm IST - Amman:

India’s traditional support for the Palestinian cause remains “steadfast and unwavering,” and the country is ready to “work with all like-minded nations” for amicably solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday.

Addressing students and academics at the Jordan University here, on the second day of his six-day tri-nation tour to West Asia, President Mukherjee sought to ease concerns among the Arab nations about India’s growing ties with Israel.

“Our bilateral relations with Israel are independent of our relations with Palestine. India supports a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders,” the President told an applauding audience, mostly students from one of the leading educational institutions in the Arab world.

In July, New Delhi, for the first time, abstained from voting on a resolution on Palestine adopted at the U.N. Human Rights Council that called for accountability by parties involved in last year’s conflict in Gaza, raising questions whether the Narendra Modi government was deviating from the country’s traditional Palestine policy even as it pursues stronger ties with Israel.

But the President has re-emphasised the “proactive role” India has played in garnering support for the Palestinian cause in all multinational forums.

Mr. Mukherjee’s comments come at a time when tension is rising between Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank. Over the past few days, a number of Palestinians have been shot down by Israeli security forces after a wave of knife attacks against soldiers. Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, has called for a third intifada — popular upsurge — against the Israeli occupation.

Mr. Mukherjee said India was happy to provide budgetary, economic and developmental assistance to Palestine. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Mukherjee said: “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France belongs to the French.”

Syrian crisis

Earlier in the day, Mr. Mukherjee met with the Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Judeh on regional and bilateral issues, where both nations called for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

“Both India and Jordan have emphasised that the Geneva I peace process is the way forward. There has to be talks by all sides, including the government of President Bashar al Assad, and its opponents, and backed by international backers to find a transitional mechanism,” Anil Wadhwa, Secretary East, Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters here after high-level meetings.

“There’s no military solution to the Syrian crisis. The long-term solution should be political,” Mr. Wadhwa said. He said “no” to a question whether this would mean India is opposed to Russia’s military intervention in Syria. “The Indian position is that Russian military involvement in Syria is to halt the advances of the Islamic State. But what came up for discussion today is the long-term solution to the Syrian crisis. That’s the Geneva talks”

The Geneva communique issued on June 30, 2012 calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body in Syria with full executive powers that could include members of the government and opposition, and should be formed on the basis of mutual consent.

Six MoUs signed

India and Jordan have also signed six memorandums of understanding on areas such as maritime transport and communication. Besides, Indo-Jordanian universities have signed 10 MoUs to strengthen cooperation in the realm of education and research.

The President will go to Ramallah on Monday where he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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