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We want India to help in upcoming peace efforts, says Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas (Hindu)

Palestinian President calls for international involvement in peace-making.

In an interview to The Hindu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Israel is working against the two-state solution, and strong international backing is required to implement it.

What are your hopes from this visit to India, your first since 2012?

This is my fifth visit to India since 2005. India and its people are very close friends to Palestine, and know very well the meaning of struggling for your independence, for justice and against colonialism. So first of all I’m coming to say thank you to the Indian people that has stood tall for the universal rights of freedom, justice and peace. I’m also coming to thank President [Pranab] Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their generous economic support and will discuss the current situation in Palestine and the region, and how we can strengthen our relations with a country that has an important international weight and that we have a lot to learn from.

You are visiting India after meetings in U.S., and just ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel and Palestine this month. How do you see chances for peace now?

I am here in India to seek the support of its government to help in the upcoming peace efforts. I believe that there is a historical opportunity because of President Trump’s leadership and courage to make peace and help the parties to reach an ultimate peace deal. This peace deal will help in giving hope and justice and reducing tremendously the terrorism in our region and the world. We welcome President Trump on May 23 in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, the birthplace of hope.

Is there a role for India in the peace process?

We have long advocated for international involvement in the peace-making, based on international resolutions to implement the two states [based] on [the] 1967 [borders]. This could not be achieved unless there is a strong international backing for the peace efforts. In the case of India, we have always mentioned that we want India to be involved, besides Arab countries, EU, Russia and other members of BRICS.

Israel has often said that while the Palestinian Authority calls for the process, you don’t actually come to the talks table. How do you respond?

Unfortunately, the Israeli government is working against the two-state solution and continues to build colonial settlements in our occupied country. Nobody will benefit more from a peace agreement than our people. We live under occupation and in exile. This injustice must end. When we have 1,500 political prisoners in hunger strike for their basic human rights, 8,00,000 prisoners since the beginning of the occupation, what does it tell you? What we need from Israel is seriousness, commitment to a solution that involves fully ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967.

In the past decade-and-a-half and particularly in the last few years, India has strengthened ties with Israel to a great extent. Have traditional ties with Palestine undergone a change as a result?

When I come to India, we speak as friends, with total frankness and honesty. Do we see a change? India recognises the State of Palestine and voted in favour of the enhancement of our status at the U.N. We will continue to build upon our strong relations. We will be very positive with our friends in India and we are confident that we will overcome any misunderstandings and will explain our position.

During your meeting with PM Modi, will your Excellency offer an invitation to visit Palestine? Given that he would be visiting Israel in early July, are there any indications that he may visit Palestine as well?

Prime Minister Modi is always welcome to visit Palestine, a country loved by hundreds of millions of Indians.

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