India pledges to build schools in West Bank

MoU signed after PMs meeting with visiting Palestinian president

Reaffirming its continued assistance to nation-building efforts of Palestine, India on Tuesday pledged to build two schools in the conflict zone of West Bank.

With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a state visit to India, New Delhi committed to build two secondary schools at Asera Al Shamalyeh and Abu Dees in West Bank. Both schools, one for girls and the other for boys, will be named after India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Both Asera Al Shamalyeh and Abu Dees have been witnessing frequent raids by the Israeli defence forces. Abu Dees borders Jerusalem and Palestinians in the locality have been experiencing difficulty in reaching schools, hospitals and even mosques ever since Israel started erecting a barrier separating east Jerusalem from its western part.

An MoU was signed by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and M S Erakat, member of Executive Committee of Palestinian Liberation Organisation, with India committing to spend $ 1.8 million to build and equip the schools, which will cater to the needs of about 800 Palestinian students of Asera Al Shamalyeh, Abu Dees and neighbouring villages.

The MoU was signed after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with the visiting Palestinian president. Singh reassured Abbas of India’s continued support to Palestine.

India earlier built library and student activity centre as well as reconstructed a hospital in the Gaza Strip. But the schools will be New Delhi’s first direct development assistance to Palestine in the West Bank. Earlier, New Delhi contributed through the IBSA (a bloc of India, Brazil and South Africa) forum to build an indoor multipurpose sports complex in Ramallah in central West Bank.

Cornerstone

“Support for the Palestinian cause has been a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy,” Singh told journalists after his meeting with Abbas.

New Delhi pledged to contribute $ 10 million to Palestine’s budget for 2012-13. India earlier provided assistance to Palestine for construction of a building for its embassy in New Delhi. Abbas inaugurated the building on Tuesday.

Singh reiterated India’s “firm support for the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side and at peace with Israel”.

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