Palestine seeks India’s help to mitigate Al Aqsa crisis

Palestine’s Ambassador to India Adnan Abu Alhaija expressed hope that India would “interfere” with Israel to help resolve the problem

Photo courtesy: en.wikipedia.org
Photo courtesy: en.wikipedia.org
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Dhairya Maheshwari

India has been asked by Palestine to “interfere” in the ongoing Al Aqsa Mosque compound crisis by encouraging Israel to desist from any measures that would further escalate an already tense situation.

Palestine’s Ambassador to India Adnan Abu Alhaija on Wednesday expressed hope that India would pay heed to its historic relations with Palestine and continue leading other countries to support the Palestinian cause.

“India and Palestine enjoy strong relations. The reception by the Indian government during the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in May was really positive and encouraging. We expect the Indian government to play a positive role to help resolve the current crisis,” Ambassador Alhaija said during the press conference at the Palestinian Embassy.

Ambassador Alhaija downplayed the significance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stand alone trip to Israel earlier this month, which was a prominent departure from India’s established foreign policy norm. Modi was not only the first Indian PM to visit Israel since establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, but also raised eyebrows as he skipped visiting Palestine.

“I wouldn’t go by reports in Israeli media that played up Indian PM’s visit. We have a strong understanding with the Indian government and New Delhi remains committed to the two-state solution,” Alhaija replied, when pointed out that a reference to the “two-state solution” was missing from the joint statement signed by Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu during the Indian PM’s visit.

Describing the security measures put in place by Israel at the Al-Aqsa Mosque as an act of “extreme provocation,” the Ambassador said that Israel had made it impossible for Muslims to visit the mosque, which he noted had been declared as “uniquely Muslim” by UNESCO last year.

“No one, not even Israel’s thickest ally, the United States, can afford to say otherwise in their right mind,” Alhaija said.

The diplomat noted that tensions over increased security measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, considered to be the third holiest shrine in Islam, had risen in the wake of a gun battle between three Palestinians and Israeli police and citizens on July 14. Three Palestinians and two policemen were killed in the battle, which triggered massive protests by Palestinians. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the killing of Palestinians and also called for an investigation into the confrontation.

Calling Israel’s attempt to take control of “internal security” of al-Aqsa as a breach of the status quo that has been in place since 1967, the Ambassador warned that the crisis could plunge the region into more violence.

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Published: 26 Jul 2017, 3:31 PM