Indian leaders take PA Chairman on tech tour

India partners with Palestinian Authority to bring jobs to civilians. Will it work?


Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi
Adnan Abidi, Reuters

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas began a three-day visit to India on Monday with a tour of an IT facility that is helping Ramallah build a high-end tech hub.

Abbas, who arrived late Sunday, will hold talks on the Middle East peace process, among other issues, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in coming days.

But his first stop was to a technology institute outside Delhi where India is lending its IT know-how to encourage the PA to create hi-tech jobs for its civilians.

Currently, most PA residents prefer to work for Israeli employers.

India agreed in October to spend $12 million financing a new IT hub in Ramallah in a sign of India's "strong commitment to support (the) Palestinian cause," India's foreign ministry said at the time.

Abbas and his delegation spent nearly two hours touring the Center for Development of Advance Computing.

On Monday evening, the Fatah leader is scheduled attend a function at the India Islamic Cultural Center in New Delhi.

Abbas will on Tuesday be formally welcomed at the presidential palace before meeting Modi, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

New Delhi is hosting the Fatah leader ahead of Modi's visit to Israel in July - the first by an Indian prime minister.

India has traditionally voiced its support for the PA's bid for statehood, despite the fact that the same Abbas is a member of the Fatah terrorist network, and that the PA works together with terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Front.

As a result, India has traditionally shunned diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

The frost has thawed, however, with India - the world's biggest arms importer - signing a $2 billion weapons deal with Israel in April.

"India wants to strengthen ties with Israel," Indian officials said in March.