President Mukherjee’s visit to Palestine and Israel comes at a time when the tension between the two sides has scaled up. In the last few weeks, both sides have suffered heavy casualties in their ongoing fight.
President Mukherjee drove down to the Palestinian Authority (PA) territory from Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. After spending the night in Palestine, the President will return to Israel for a three-day visit.
The president was received at the Palestinian checkpoint by their Education Minister, Sabri Saidan. In his day long visit, President Mukherjee is expected to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
In Amman, ahead of his visit to Palestine, President Mukherjee outlined India’s policy towards West Asia. He spoke about India’s “unflinching commitment to sustaining and expanding relations” with the Arab world even as it pursues strong relations with the Jewish state.
“Our bilateral relations with Israel are independent of our relations with Palestine,” President Mukherjee had said in an address to the University of Jordan in Amman.
“India has an unflinching commitment to sustaining and expanding relations with the Arab world. Our ties are ancient and civilisational. West Asia is a vital part of India’s extended neighbourhood and millions of Indians live and work here……India’s traditional support to the Palestinian cause remains steadfast and unwavering while we pursue strong relations with Israel. Our bilateral relations are independent of our relations with Palestine,” said the President.
President Mukherjee called for talks between the two sides to resolve the deepening crisis,
“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,” clarified President Mukerjee a day before visiting Palestine.
The President said that India desired to see Palestine living side by side at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Quartet Roadmap and relevant UNSC Resolutions.
At the event, President Mukherjee was honoured with a doctorate in Political Science for his 50 years of exemplary service to the Indian people and mankind in general by the University of Jordan.
After Palestine, President Mukherjee will head to Israel where he will address the Parliament Knesset. He will also meet Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
(With inputs from PTI)