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Palestinian sit-in denounces Indian stance on Jerusalem perceived as non-committal

July 6, 2017 10:41 A.M. (Updated: July 6, 2017 6:16 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian activists staged a sit-in on Wednesday in front of India’s representative office to Palestine to express their rejection of comments by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi two days earlier.

In an interview with Israeli news outlet Israel Hayom published Monday ahead of a diplomatic visit to Israel, in which Modi hailed the “strong” bilateral economic and diplomatic ties between India and Israel, the Indian high official was asked about his position on Israel’s claims of sovereignty over Jerusalem.

“We believe in a two-state solution in which both Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist peacefully. A final-status agreement should respect the sentiments and address demands of all affected parties. The key to finding a solution to this issue lies with the affected parties,” Modi answered.

“India supports all efforts to find an acceptable solution to all the pending issues, including Jerusalem. I assume the question refers to our embassy in Tel Aviv. We will take a decision on that after both sides have come to an agreement on Jerusalem," Modi added.

Modi’s non-committal answer upset some Palestinians, prompting the National and Islamic forces group of the Ramallah al-Bireh district of the occupied West Bank to call for a sit-in in front of the Indian representative office in Beituniya.

The demonstrators called on India to remember its strong ties with Palestine, and called on the Indian government to re-evaluate its stance.

“We are standing in front of the Indian embassy (sic) today as a reminder of the friendship between the Palestinian and Indian people and leaders, and the historic relationships that tie us to this friendly country,” Hurriyat Center head Hilmi al-Araj said at the sit-in.

Al-Araj added that the sit-in also stood to remind India that Palestinians were still under an Israeli military occupation repressing their rights to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

National and Islamic forces coordinator Issam Bakr said Modi’s statement was a dangerous development, contradicting India’s position in support of Palestinian independence.

Al-Araj called on India as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement to uphold its responsibilities vis-a-vis the suffering of the Palestinian people and to pressure Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian lands occupied since 1967 instead of rewarding its violations of human rights with lucrative economic deals.

The sit-in occurred a day after the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee passed a resolution rejecting Israel’s claims of sovereignty over occupied East Jerusalem.

While Israel has long claimed Jerusalem as its capital, this has not been recognized by the international community, with even outspoken Israel supporter US President Donald Trump seemingly backing down from his electoral campaign promise to move the US embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
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