Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during an news conference with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged his country's support to the Palestinian people during a visit to Ramallah on Saturday.
“I have assured President Abbas that India is committed to the Palestinian people’s interests,” Modi said in a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “The relations between India and Palestine have stood the test of time."
Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that the two parties signed agreements worth $41.35 million to fund multiple Palestinian projects.
Abbas reportedly thanked India for its support for the Palestinian cause, saying the Palestinians count on India to play a role in peacemaking because of its position as a world power of great stature and weight.
He also rejected recent accusations by Israel and the US claiming the Palestinians have abandoned the peace process over the PA's rejection of the Americans as peace mediators.
“We have never rejected negotiations; we have been and are still ready for negotiations,” said Abbas.
The Palestinians are trying to shore up international support for a process that will see multiple brokers replacing Washington as the sponsors of a future peace deal.
Ahmad Majdalani, a PLO Executive Committee member, said that improved relations between Israel and India could benefit the Palestinians.
“The growing ties between them could be positive, because now India has more leverage with Israel and can pressure it in our favor,” he said.
Over the past several months, Israel and India have upgraded ties, with their respective leaders visiting each others countries and inking cooperation agreements.
The senior PLO official stated further that Abbas and Modi will discuss bilateral relations between India and the PA, especially regarding information technology.
India has donated millions of dollars for a technology park that is under construction in Bir Zeit, a university town north of Ramallah.
The technology park will host a co-working space, a research and development program, an innovation center, a business center and other facilities, according to the park’s website.