A delay in disbursing financial aid to Palestine promised by the former UPA government is adversely affecting India’s bilateral ties with the Palestine government, the external affairs ministry has said.
Domestic financial constraints have caused the delay in releasing the $10 million aid that was announced by former prime minister Manmohan Singh, officials said, although the government released $4 million in the current financial year. Another $1 million was released in 2013-14.
“This is indeed adversely affecting India’s credibility in our bilateral relationship with the Palestine government, to which we have traditionally extended strong support,” the external affairs ministry told a parliamentary standing committee in December.
The aid was announced during Palestine National Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to New Delhi in 2012, but the money was not released.
“The delay in disbursal was due to lack of funds in 2013-14, when the UPA was in power. Since it is a sensitive issue it could have repercussions for the government of the day in its dealing with very friendly Palestine authorities,” a source said.
Analysts said the delay would bring Indo-Palestine ties under the scanner, coming as it does at a time when India’s support to the Palestine cause is being increasingly seen in light of the country’s growing closeness with Israel.
However, the government has said there is no change in India’s stand on the Palestine cause, which stems from India’s freedom struggle, a view also expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India has traditionally supported a diplomatic solution of the Palestine-Israel conflict, one that results in a sovereign Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital living harmoniously with Israel, as endorsed in the Arab Peace Initiative and United Nations Security Council resolutions.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said in the Rajya Sabha in July there was no change in India’s support for the Palestine cause.
“The NDA was in power for five years while the Congress for 10 years. Even the coalition governments followed the same policy,” she said.