Palestine-India relations made remarkable progress in recent years, says India’s ambassador

RAMALLAH, Saturday, The Ambassador of India to Palestine, Anish Rajan, said that his country is carrying out projects exceeding $40 million in Palestine and that relations with Palestine have made remarkable progress over the past years.

In an exclusive interview with WAFA, Rajan said that India and Palestine have enjoyed close relations since India gained independence in the 1930s and was one of the 14 countries that voted against the partition of Palestine in 1947. Since then, mutual cooperation has been maintained and an Indian representative office opened in Palestine in the early 1990s in Gaza Strip before moving to Ramallah.

Regarding Indian projects that were invested in Palestine, Rajan pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on his first visit to Palestine last February several projects, the largest of which was the establishment of a specialized hospital in the city of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem in the West Bank since Bethlehem lacks a hospital that serves everyone. The hospital includes many vital wards such as cardiology, orthopedics, emergency, children, and maternity.

He also referred to the importance of Modi’s visit, which he considered “historic”, as it contributed to strengthening relations between their two governments and peoples, where projects worth of $40 million were announced.

He added that among the projects implemented in Palestine, is the construction of schools in al-Shuhadaa Triangle, to the south of Jenin, and Tammun, southeast of the city of Tubas, which might be called Mahatma Gandhi School by the Palestinian Ministry of Education to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth. With the increasing number of students, a new floor will also be built in a school that is expected to be built in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem.

The Prime Minister also announced during his visit that India will provide the Palestinian government with the project of “national print”, which will provide Palestine with sophisticated and advanced printers that would save the government on costs of school and textbooks.

Other projects that Rajan talked about the establishment of a heritage project related to strengthening women presence in the Palestinian society, develop its vocational and industrial skills and marketing of its products, which will have headquarters in Ramallah and Gaza.

The ambassador praised the technology park project that was carried out by India in Birzeit University near Ramallah.

He said that he is the ninth Indian representative to serve in Palestine, referring to his efforts to strengthen relations and push them forward.

Rajan also referred to the high-level visits between the two countries during the past years, noting to the visit of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to Palestine on October 8, 2015, the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to India on May 14, 2017, and the visit of the Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj about two years ago.

Rajan affirmed his country’s position in support of the two-state solution, which is based on the establishment of a Palestinian state as a continuous and sovereign state living in peace alongside Israel, pointing out that despite all difficulties, people must believe that peace is possible.

He said that India’s vote in favor of Palestinian resolutions at the United Nations is continuing and that India stands by the Palestinian people in achieving their rights.

Speaking about the efforts to hold an international conference for peace in the Middle East, Rajan said that if India is invited to participate in this conference, it will participate and will take into consideration what the Palestinian people are trying to achieve and will make decisions in this regard.

On the achievements that were made since he started his work in Palestine over the past two years, he said that the Palestinian-Indian relations in the field of trade exchange have developed and that 50 scholarships are being offered annually to Palestinian students, noting that this number may increase to 100 annually.

He said that a lot of the selected students are from the Gaza Strip, and that India is in touch with the concerned authorities to facilitate their travel through Egypt to India.

He added that since the beginning of the last year, a youth exchange program between Palestine and India was implemented, where 50 young men and women from Palestine visited India, noting that very soon 50 young Indians will also visit Palestine to see and learn about the situation first hand.

Rajan said that short-term courses for Palestinian workers in the public and private sectors in India were being offered to develop their skills in various fields and exchange expertise between Palestine and India.

The ambassador recalled Gandhi’s approach to peace in the region on his 150th birth anniversary, and expressed his hope for a just peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

On the relations between India and Israel and the possibility of its impact on relations with Palestine, he ruled out any impact on Palestinian-Indian relations, which have been developing in the last seven decades and which are considered historical.

He said his country seeks to achieve a just solution for the two countries, and for the Palestinians to determine their fate and achieve independence.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency