Ahead of meeting with Putin in Sochi, Abbas asked Modi to support new efforts to replace US as mediator in peace process; Abbas: We count on India, with its status as a great power, its historical role in the non-aligned movement and in international forums… to achieve a just peace.
The Palestinian Authority called on India to support multinational peace mediation for future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during Prime Minister Naredra Modi’s visit to the West Bank.
Modi, who arrived in the West Bank over the weekend, met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdalla followed by a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. He arrived in the West Bank via Jordan following a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates.
Prime Minister Modi again made history in the region, the first Indian prime minister to visit the Palestinian territories after being the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel in the summer of 2017. Prime Minister Netanyahu was the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit India last month.
Modi’s meeting with Abbas was centered on strengthening bilateral ties, as well as to pledge a $41 million donation to build schools and a new hospital in the West Bank.
Following Modi’s meeting with Abbas, both addressed the press who were not permitted to ask questions. Abbas, who has been actively looking to replace the United States as a mediator in the peace process, called on India to support a new, multicultural mediation efforts in the peace process. He stated, “We consider a multi-lateral mechanism that emerges from an international peace conference as the ideal way to sponsor the negotiations. Here we count on India, with its status as a great power, its historical role in the non-aligned movement and in international forums… to achieve a just peace.”
Modi centered his address on bilateral and historic ties, emphasizing India’s history of supporting the Palestinians, first for the PLO and later for recognition of an independent, Palestinian state in 1988. Modi, however, did not mention India’s stance on Jerusalem. He stated on bilateral ties “Palestine and India enjoy strong, historic relations that have withstood the test of time, and our support for the Palestinian issue has become a fixed element of our foreign policy.”
Abbas further claimed the Palestinians “never have and never will reject negotiations,” his claim just weeks after he cut efforts by the Trump Administration following its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. The PA previously ended efforts for resumed talks in 2014, making a unity government with Hamas who openly calls for Israel’s destruction.
The Palestinian Authority announced in December following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem that it is seeking new mediation outside of the United States, the PA reportedly sending delegations to Russia and China. The PA since then has claimed that it is not cutting the United States out of the process, but opening its search to include other countries.
Abbas arrived in Moscow Monday for a meeting with Russian President Putin in Sochi. Abbas is expected to request Russia play a significant role in its new mediation efforts, as well as discuss plans for a peace conference. The PA reported “We are hoping that Russia and the EU will step in to fill the void. We believe that these countries should and can play a larger role in any peace process in the wake of the Trump administration’s hostile policies toward the Palestinians and bias in favor of Israel.”
Photo: Modi & Abbas in Ramallah, Screenshot, 2018.