Modi pledges RM158m for Palestinian development


NEW DELHINarendra Modi pledged US$40 million (RM157.6 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 on 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”.

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 US 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 the US$40 million would go for media equipment, schools and a hospital. — Bloomberg