India increases capacity building projects in Palestine

Pranab Abbas

Reiterating India’s political and economic support for Palestine, India has increased capacity building projects in Palestine. It has announced capacity building projects in West Bank and Gaza. This decision comes at a time when there was skepticism among a few sections in India regarding the government’s commitment to the Palestine cause in the backdrop of growing relations with Israel.

The announcements were made during India’s President Pranab Mukherjee’s ongoing visit to Palestine. Mr Mukherjee is in Palestine from October 12-13. India had decided to double the number of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) slots to 100 from the current 50 and also increase the general scholarships for Palestine from 10 to 25. Reiterating India’s support to Palestine, Mr Mukherjee said, “India would always support Palestine in capacity building efforts, and whatever is feasible or whatever is required by the Palestinian side, India would be ready to come forward with help.”

India announced five projects worth USD 17.79 million. The first is setting up of a techno park in Ramallah, which will cost about USD 12 million. Second is setting up of the Palestinian Institute of Diplomacy at a cost of USD 4.5 million, the India-Palestine Centre for Excellence in ICT and Innovation in Gaza, which will cost USD 1 million. Third is the cooperation between Birzeit University in the West Bank and Jawaharlal Nehru University at a cost of USD 21,670 for a Ph.D. programme, which was a support for five years and India Studies Chair at Al-Quds University, which will amount to USD 268,000.

Announcing a grant of USD 5 million by India to Palestine, a symbolic cheque was handed over apart from the real cheque. This grant is to be used by Palestine for budgetary support.

Apart from capacity building programmes, Mr Mukherjee also discussed with his Palestine counterpart Mahmoud Abbas issues pertaining to Israel and Palestine, way forward in the Middle East peace process and the rise of terrorist groups in the region. Appreciating Palestine for its approach in working towards a negotiated settlement Mr Mukherjee said, “we are happy on the course of action that has been adopted by Palestine in this regard and the fact that the Palestinian position is the right choice. He also conveyed that in today’s world violence has no place and tolerance must be practised and advised whenever it is possible.”

“Palestinians were peace seekers and they followed the footsteps of Gandhiji. Gandhi’s principles are still revered in Palestine,” said Mr Abbas. Stressing that Palestine does not believe in terrorist organisations like ISIS, Mr Abbas said Palestine does not want them to come into its territory. He said that if Israel wanted to keep them off the vicinity, the best solution would be to solve the conflict quickly and reach a negotiated settlement.

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