India's position on Palestine independent, says MEA

| | New Delhi

Hours after US President Donald Trump announced his administration's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, India on Thursday made it clear that it has no diplomatic dilemma over the issue, and it will continue with its own policy on Palestine and Israel without being influenced by any other country.

"India's position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries regarding India's position on Trump's latest decision.

Reversing decades of US policy on the Israel-Palestine dispute, Trump on Wednesday ordered the US embassy to be shifted from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and in the process stirred a fresh storm. His announcement led to sharp reactions from the world leaders with several warning Trump that such a decision will only fuel the conflict instead of pacifying it.

Being a close friend of both Palestine and Israel, while India watches the latest development closely, its engagement with these nations will continue as usual. Shortly after taking over as External affairs Minister in the new Government, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had outlined her Government's foreign policy on this sensitive issue. At the NAM Committee meeting on Palestine in New York in 2014 Swaraj made it clear that India's commitment to the Palestinian cause has been a core feature of its foreign policy and will remain so.

India was the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestine. But over the years, and particularly under the Narendra Modi Government, ties with Israel have improved substantially. Ever since it took over in 2014, the Modi Government has been making efforts to strike a fine balance in India's relations with both countries. In May this year Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. A visit to Ramallah is awaited.

While it engaged ‘deeply' with Israel at different levels, India also intensified its involvement with Palestine.  Prior to his visit to Israel, Modi hosted President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas and assured him of India's Rs unwavering support.' He also offered help for capacity building in Palestine.

India and Palestine held their first ever Foreign Office Consultations in Ramallah in May, 2015 followed by a Joint Commission Meeting in November 2016 where cooperation in a Information Technology, Security, Youth Affairs and Sports, Education, Health, Agriculture, Tourism and Culture were explored. India is also setting up an Institute of Diplomacy in Palestine for training of Palestinian diplomats through assistance of $4.5 million and has doubled the number of scholars for Palestinians to study in India.

At the United Nations, India has generally voted in favour of Palestine though it abstained in a resolution against Israel for a probe by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into alleged war crimes during the 2014 Gaza strike. India justified its abstaining on the grounds that it is not party to the ICC.



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