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India offers $5 mn budgetary support to Palestine

President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday held talks with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah where he reiterated India’s economic and political support for the Palestinians, and announced projects for capacity building in Gaza and West Bank.

The President has handed over a cheque of $5 million to the Palestinian government as budgetary support, Anil Wadhwa, Secretary East at the External Affairs Ministry, told the accompanying media delegation after high-level talks.

Both countries have also announced five projects worth $17.79 million aimed at capacity building in the Palestinian territories. The projects include a $12 million techno park, a $4.5 million Palestine Institute for Diplomacy and a $1 million India-Pakistan Centre for Excellence in Gaza.

Mr. Mukherjee arrives in Ramallah at a time when clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces were running high. A number of Palestinians have been shot down by Israeli forces recently after knife attacks against them. On Saturday, an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza strip, which is under the control of the Islamist Hamas, had killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her three-year old daughter.

Reflecting the complicated security situation, the President and his entourage drove from the Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv to the Bitunia checkpoint which divides Israel from Palestine. The President and members of the delegation had to change from Israeli vehicles to those arranged by Palestine.

During the talks, Mr. Mukherjee has reiterated India’s position that it supports a peaceful solution to the crisis based on negotiations and UN Security Council resolutions. Mr. Wadhwa said India would continue to support resolution on the formation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 border at the UN.

Asked about India’s abstention from a resolution at UNHRC on Palestine earlier this year, Mr. Wadhwa said “it’s a past issue. We have explained our position to Palestine and they understand it”.

On Tuesday, President Mukherjee would address students at the al-Quds university before going to Jerusalem.

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