Dr. T.C.A. Raghavan, Director General, Indian Council of World Affairs
Your Excellency Mr. Adnan Abualhayjaa, Ambassador of State of Palestine in India
Your Excellency Dr. Saud Mohammed Al-Sati, Ambassador of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Head of Arab Ambassadors’ Council
H.E. Mrs. Alyaa Ghannam, Ambassador of the League of Arab States Mission
Your Excellency Mr. Rene Van Berkel, UNIDO Representative in India
Excellencies, distinguished invitees,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to be here today at this gathering to mark the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine in their struggle for their legitimate rights.
In line with our support for United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the Arab Peace Plan, India has supported a negotiated solution leading to a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, with East Jerusalem as its Capital, side by side and at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Quartet Roadmap and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1397 & 1515.
India reiterated this vision in the Joint Statement issued during the Visit of Prime Minister of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on October 29, 2019 which states that “Both sides expressed hope for achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in Palestine based on the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant UN resolutions, to guarantee the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and the establishment of their independent state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”
During this year similar sentiments have been subscribed to by India through the Joint Communique of the 16th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China issued on February 27, at Zhejiang; in the POLITICAL DECLARATION OF THE MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE OF the Non-Aligned Movement on PALESTINE issued on 20 July in Caracas; and in the Brasilia Declaration issued at the 11th BRICS Summit on 14 November.
India prior to its independence, had demonstrated its solidarity with the Palestinian people through words and through deed. In 1974, India, was the first non-Arab State to recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In 1988 India became one of the first countries in the world, to recognize the State of Palestine. India opened its Representative Office in Palestine in 1996, following the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority. The foundation stone of the Palestinian Embassy Building in New Delhi, a gift of the government and people of India, was laid in the presence of the Palestinian President Mr. Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to India in October 2008.
India has continuously supported the Palestinian people in their pursuit of legitimate goals and their quest for development based on dignity and self-reliance. We have rejoiced in the achievements of Palestinian people.
The Minister of State for External Affairs informed Parliament in July this year that:
“India continues to maintain its relationship with Palestine through regular high-level exchanges. We are also extending financial support for Palestinian nation building through capacity building, project assistance and budgetary support.
Recently, India increased its contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) fund.
India has also increased award of long-term ICCR Scholarships and short-term training assistance – ITEC slots in order to support the higher education requirements of the Palestinian youth.”
DG, ICWA has just read out PM’s message on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi undertook the first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Palestine in February 2018. During this visit, an amount of USD42 Million worth of bilateral assistance to Palestine was extended. During his visit Hon’ble Prime Minister stated and I quote:
“The old and strong historical relations between India and Palestine have stood the test of time. Our incessant and steadfast support to the Palestinian cause has always been on top of our foreign policy.
India is a very old ally in Palestine’s nation-building efforts.
India will continue to invest in Palestine in various projects.
We consider this contribution as building blocks for the creation of an energetic Palestine State.
India hopes that Palestine soon becomes a sovereign and independent country in a peaceful atmosphere.”
Our longstanding friendship with Palestine is built around three core dimensions – (i) solidarity with Palestinian people; (ii) steadfast support to the Palestinian cause; and (iii) development partnership to assist nation building and capacity building efforts.
Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen,
The West Asian region is of vital importance to India with more than 8 million Indians making it their home. Peace and stability in the region are of paramount importance to India. We are deeply concerned with continuing tensions on the border between Gaza strip and Israel as well on the Golan heights and deeply saddened by the loss of lives. We have urged all sides to avoid escalation of the situation so as to create a conducive atmosphere to resume the peace process.
On this occasion, I would once again like to re-affirm India’s consistent and unwavering support to the friendly people of Palestine and extend our best wishes to them. I thank the Indian Council for World Affairs for organizing this event and inviting me to be associated with it.
Long live Indo-Palestinian friendship.