After abstaining in anti-Israel vote, Indian official on Palestine visit

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) Days after India abstained in a UNHRC vote against Israel over the 2014 Gaza conflict, a top Indian official visited Palestine during which he met President Mahmoud Abbas.

Anil Wadhwa, secretary (East) in the external affairs ministry, was on a two-day official visit to Palestine on July 8-9.

On Wednesday evening, Wadhwa called on Abbas and discussed bilateral relations and issues relating to the West Asia and the stalled Middle East Peace Process.

Wadhwa also met officials in the ministry of foreign affairs of Palestine, said an official statement on Thursday.

Wadhwa will call on Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister, on Thursday.

He is also to inaugurate the Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary School for Girls in Asera Al-Shamalyeh.

The project is a gift from the government and people of India to Palestine. The school is one of the Indian projects in Palestine and a part of India’s capacity building initiatives in Palestine, said the statement.

The other ongoing projects of the Indian government in Palestine include the Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary Boys School in Abu Dees, setting up of the India-Palestine Centre for Excellence in ICT and Digital Learning and Innovation Centre in Al Quds University (with a satellite centre in Ramallah) and supply of technical and vocational education training equipment and training services to seven vocational training centres in Palestine.

On July 3, marking a significant change in stance, India had abstained on a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel over a UN report into the alleged war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza conflict. But India stated that “there is no change in New Delhi’s long-standing position on support to the Palestinian cause”.

India has in the past voted in favour of anti-Israel resolutions in the UN.

India was among five countries that abstained in the vote against Israel.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit Israel, Palestine and Jordan this year, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also to visit Israel this year.

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