politics

India's Modi Pledges $40 Million for Palestinian Development

  • West Bank visit is first ever by an Indian prime minister
  • Relationship persists despite India’s warming ties with Israel

Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, right, waves as he walks with Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah, West Bank, on Feb. 10.

Photographer: Geraldine Hope Ghelli/Bloomberg

Narendra Modi pledged $40 million for economic development in the Palestinian territories, marking the first-ever visit by an Indian prime minister to the West Bank.

“We discussed regional and global developments that have a role in peace in the world and in the region,” Modi said Saturday in Ramallah, where he appeared alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Modi said he hoped peace could be reached “quickly, through dialogue and understanding.”

Narendra Modi, left, and Mahmoud Abbas on Feb. 10.

Photographer: Geraldine Hope Ghelli/Bloomberg

The trip follows Modi’s visit to Israel last summer, where he opted not to make a detour to the West Bank as part of New Delhi’s efforts to "de-hyphenate" its relations with Israel and the Palestinians. Last month Modi hosted Benjamin Netanyahu on a week-long visit to India, where the prime minister pitched Israeli prowess in security and technology and sought to revive a half-billion dollar missile deal.

Even as Modi dramatically tightens India’s ties with Israel, New Delhi has continued its longstanding support of the Palestinians in international forums. In early January India backed a United Nations resolution condemning U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state. 

New Delhi already sponsors several development projects in Palestinian territories, and Modi said Saturday the $40 million would go for media equipment, schools and a hospital. Modi also visited the tomb of Yasser Arafat, Abbas’s predecessor, before talks with the current leadership.

“We count on India, an international force on a strategic and economic level, to help Palestinians achieve a just peace in our region,” Abbas said at the press conference.

Modi also will visit the United Arab Emirates and Oman, where there are sizable communities of expatriate Indian workers, before returning to India.

— With assistance by Gwen Ackerman

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