ABBAS URGES INDIA TO PLAY ITS ROLE FOR PEACE IN MIDDLE EAST

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Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the India Islamic Cultural Center in New Delhi on Monday. Caravan Daily photo.

Speaking at a reception in his honor organized by the India Islamic Cultural Center here, Palestine President said India should use its influence to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands as the world knows that India and Israel have close ties.

Abdul Bari Masoud

NEW DELHI — Ahead of his meeting with the Indian leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas said India should continue to play its role in restoring peace and stability in the Middle East. He also urged Israel to seize the opportunity of peace and dialogue with Palestine for a two-state solution.

Speaking at a reception in his honor organized by the India Islamic Cultural Center here, Palestine President said India should use its influence to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands as the world knows that India and Israel have close ties.

“When I will meet Prime Minister Naredra Modi, I will ask him to use his good-office to bring peace and stability in our region and our just cause for self-determination.”

In the backdrop of increasing proximity between the Modi government and Israel which may have a bearing on India’s relations with Palestine,  President Abbas’ remarks assume significance, who arrived with high-level delegation on Monday on a four-day official visit to New Delhi.

Prime Minister Modi is slated to visit Israel in July who will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel after New Delhi established diplomatic relation with the Zionist entity in 1994.

“We are ready for a two-state solution living Palestine and Israel side by side with peace and stability but Israel has to respond to this,” Abbas said and adding that USA, Russia and Germany all have supported our peace efforts.

“What we are trying to implement the two-state solution on the basis of June, 4, 1967, when Israel occupied lands. We are committed and desired this. It is an open and rare opportunity and Israel must seize it before it got lost.”

Delving into Palestine-India relationship, he said both the countries enjoy historically close and friendly relationship.  “When India got freedom from British, I was studying in primary school where my teacher announced this good news and we celebrated India’s independence here,” he recalled.

The visiting Palestine leader said India holds a prominent place in international fora, so it should continue to support our just cause of self-determination and ending the Israeli occupation.

He underlined that occupation is the root cause of terrorism in the region and condemned IS saying it indulged in barbaric activities.

On the volatile situation in Middle East, Palestine leader said the Arab Spring caused severe damaged the social fabric and political stability in the region.

Earlier welcoming the guest, IICC President Sirajuddin Qureshi said India’s empathy with the Palestinian cause, its friendship with the Palestinians and its unwavering support to the issue of Palestine, to end the injustice and alleviate their sufferings, has remained an integral part of our country.

Leader of Opposition in Upper House of Indian Parliament Ghulam Nabi Azad, Manipur Governor Najma Haptulla, and JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav also spoke on the occasion. However, none of the leaders said a word about the present government’s shift from India’s old policy on Palestine and heavy tilt towards Israel.

A Palestinian Embassy official told Caravan Daily that during the visit, Palestine President he will hold extensive talks with the Indian PM on key bilateral, regional and international issues, including the Middle East peace process.

He will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee Vice President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday while External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will also call on him.  Several Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) are expected to be signed between India and Palestine during the visit.

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