Modi omits Jerusalem in Ramallah

Prime Minister Narendra Modi displays the Grand Collar of the State of Palestine medal that he was awarded by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint statement at the end of their meeting at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 10, 2018.   | Photo Credit: AP

In his historic visit to Palestine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed India’s support for the Palestinian cause and called for dialogue to find a permanent solution to the crisis, but stopped short of saying anything on the contested issue of the status of Jerusalem.

Traditionally, Indian statements of support for Palestine have said that New Delhi backs an independent, sovereign state of Palestine within the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital. When then President Pranab Mukherjee visited Jordan, Israel and Palestine, he said: “I reiterated India’s principled support to the Palestinian cause and called for 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, side by side at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Quartet Roadmap and relevant UNSC Resolutions.” The Quartet Roadmap he referred to is the two-state plan suggested by the U.S., the European Union, Russia and the U.N. to resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

In November 2013, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a statement on the occasion of the International Solidarity Day with the Palestinian People, reiterating India’s position. It read: “India supports a negotiated resolution, resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders side by side and at peace with Israel...”

However, in the statement issued by Mr. Modi after the India visit of Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas in May 2017, there was no reference to Jerusalem. “[W]e hope to see the realisation of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, co-existing peacefully with Israel. I have reaffirmed our position on this to President Abbas during our conversation today,” the Prime Minister said on May 16, 2017.

On February 10 in Ramallah, Mr. Modi has reiterated this line, with no direct reference either to the borders or to Jerusalem. The Prime Minister said India hoped to see an independent sovereign Palestine living in a peaceful environment, whereas President Abbas, in his statement, stressed on achieving the national goals of Palestine “according to the two-state solution on the 1967 borders and the resolutions of international legitimacy. And Israel in peace and security, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.”

Palestine claims that for any final settlement, East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967, has to be recognised as the capital of the future Palestinian state. Most countries, including India, do not recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and have their embassies in Tel Aviv. Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has triggered an angry response from the Palestinians and criticisms from different parts of the world.

India voted against Mr. Trump’s Jerusalem move in the U.N. General Assembly in December 2017. After Mr. Trump’s move, the External Affairs Ministry issued a statement saying “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent”, but again without any reference to Jerusalem.

The Prime Minister also did not say anything on Israel while giving the press statement in Ramallah. When he visited Israel in July 2017, there was no reference to Palestine. Indian diplomats say the objective is to delink Israel from Palestine and deal with two of them bilaterally.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 6:02:01 PM |

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