Narendra Modi Palestine visit: After becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel last year, Narendra Modi is set to create another record by visiting Palestine, that too for the first time by an Indian premier. Modi’s visit is being seen as an attempt to strengthen ties with Palestine, which was viewed to be under strain after the Indian PM made his maiden visit to Israel last year.
In a Facebook post, Modi said on Thursday, “I will be undertaking bilateral visits to Palestine, the United Arab Emirates and Oman from 9-12 February…The visit will begin from Palestine, on 10 February after transiting through Jordan. I am grateful to His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan for facilitating the transit. I look forward to meeting him in Amman on 9th February.”
Modi noted the historical significance of his visit to Palestine. He wrote, “This will be the first-ever Prime Ministerial visit to Palestine from India. I am looking forward to my discussions with President Mahmoud Abbas and reaffirming our support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine.”
Modi’s decision to skip Palestine during his visit to last year was seen critically by analysts. However, Indian officials had then said it was done deliberately yo “de-hyphenate” relations of India with the two neighbouring countries. India’s foreign ministry had said earlier this week that Modi’s decision to exclusively visit Palestine was a part of India’s “de-hyphenation policy” as new Delhi sees ties with both countries as “exclusive and independent” of each other.
During Modi’s visit to Palestine on Saturday, The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior Palestinian official as saying, Abbas would seek India’s intervention in the “multilateral peace process between Israel and the Palestinians”. Both countries are also expected to discuss bilateral relations, including information technology, reports Jerusalem Post.
During Modi’s last visit to Israel, Palestinian officials had hoped that Modi’s visit to Israel wouldn’t come at the cost of their cause.
Modi’s visit to Palestine comes just around three weeks after he hosted Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu in India.
Last year, US president Donald Trump had also visited Palestine. However, he later irked the country by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In the wake of Trump’s move, Palestine is hoping to boost its stature in the international community with Modi’s visit. Moreover, as India now has more leverage with Israel, Palestine hopes the former could play a crucial role in the peace process between the two neighbours. As Mahdi Abdul Hadi, a Palestinian political scientist based in occupied East Jerusalem, told Gulf News, “This is a way of ensuring recognition [for Palestine]. The (Indian premier’s) presence in Palestine itself is an acknowledgement.”