On Thursday, the Representative of India to Palestine, Sunil Kumar, released third tranche of funding, worth $3 million, for the construction of a Palestine-India Techno Park. In total, India has made a commitment of investing over $12 million, part of India’s broader framework of capacity building in Palestine. The Indian government pays $3 million on a half-yearly basis.
In 2017, the park became a member of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP), a global network of science and technology parks.
The techno park is meant to create a national business environment and culture “that will enable knowledge-based and creative enterprises as well as technology clusters to successfully operate locally, regionally and globally”. Its objectives include establishing an environment that is accessible to industry, supporting the process of commercialisation and industrialisation, supporting entrepreneurship and bridging the knowledge gap between the private sector and academia.
The park will be located next to the Birzeit University Academic Campus.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, India’s investment towards the park is part of India’s support to the Palestinian cause.
“Once completed, the Technopark will serve as an IT hub in Palestine with complete IT facilities offering a one-stop solution to all IT-related service requirements, providing state-of-the-art technology, hosting IT companies and foreign companies benefitting local business, Universities and other institutions,” it says.
In 1974, India became the first non-Arab state to recognise the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In 1938, while expressing sympathies for the persecution of Jews in Germany, Mahatma Gandhi said, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French”.
In 1988, India was one of the first countries to recognise the state of Palestine after the Palestinian National Congress declared independence. At that time, India maintained its support for the two-state solution and championed a “sovereign, independent, united” Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem. In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the State of Palestine in Gaza, which was shifted to Ramallah in 2003. In July 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Palestine.
According to the MEA, trade between India and Palestine stands at roughly US $40 million and spans automotive spare parts, medical tourism, agro-products, textiles, agro-chemicals and pharmaceuticals among others.
Historically, India’s ties with Israel and Palestine have been more or less balanced. India fully established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Defence and agriculture have formed the main pillars of their relationship.
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