President Pranab Mukherjee will travel to Israel and Palestine from October 12 to 15 for the first ever visit to these two countries by an Indian head of state. So far, only foreign minister and ministerial-level visits have taken place in these two nations. No Indian Prime Minister has gone there ever.
While the President will land at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport, he will head straight to Ramallah where he will hold meetings with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and the leaders of major political parties.
During his visit on October 12-13, he will also deliver an address at the Al Quds University, where he will be conferred an honorary doctorate. Later, he will inaugurate the Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary School at Abu Dees in East Jerusalem.
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During his visit to Israel from October 13 to 15, the President will address its parliament, Knesset — a rare honour for any visiting leader. Mukherjee will hold talks with his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin and meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein.
The six-day visit to the region, beginning on October 10, will take him to Jordan first, where he will meet King Abdullah and hold extensive discussions on the entire gamut of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern.
During his visit, discussions are expected on subjects like terrorism and cooperation in various areas, and MoUs in the fields of culture, education, science and technology will be signed, said Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs.
“Israel has the expertise in dealing with many challenges of the 21st century, which include science, information and technology and counter terrorism; and India has the manpower,” he said.
On the dialogue process between Israel and Palestine, Wadhwa added, “We closely follow developments in Israel and Palestine and we would like tension to come down as it is in their as well as our interest. Both the countries should find a solution bilaterally.”
He added that India stayed steadfast in its principled support to the Palestinian cause and had always favoured a negotiated solution.