The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Unique’ Palestine pleases Delhi

New Delhi, Aug. 31: The Palestinian struggle should not be a blanket justification for others to carry out mindless acts of terrorism, visiting Palestine foreign minister Nabil Sha’ath has said.

“Maybe the case of Palestine is sui generis — it is one of its kind, a unique case,” he said.

The minister pointed out that in today’s world, nobody could support terrorism, especially the loss of innocent lives. “But there is a difference between terrorism and some (incidents) which are being labelled as terrorism.”

The Palestinian leader’s comments are likely to go down well with the Indian establishment. Delhi has often tried to counter Pakistan’s attempt to draw a parallel between the Palestinian struggle — one of the oldest in the world for an independent state — and that of Kashmir to highlight “atrocities” by Indian security forces.

Sha’ath arrived on Friday and held discussions with Indian leaders, where he conveyed his perspective of the situation in West Asia and the status of the peace process.

He expressed satisfaction over India’s “unwavering support” for the Palestinian cause and seemed confident that Delhi like most other world players would want Israel to end the “occupation” of the Palestinian land so that the peace process could be revived.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee not only assured him of this but also sent a warm message to Yasser Arafat. “I am happy to see you, but I would have been happy to see President Arafat,” Vajpayee reportedly told Sha’ath.

The Prime Minister has also indicated that he would soon call Arafat and speak to him. Vajpayee’s gesture indicates that despite pressures from the West and Israel, India has decided not to abandon Arafat and continues to regard him as the most important Palestine leader.

Delhi has been busy reassuring Palestine of its support before Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit between September 9-11. The Palestinians, however, do not seem to have any problem with Sharon’s trip.

“When many of our own brothers have established embassies and are in regular touch with the Israelis, why should I blame India' But we only hope that the Indian leaders would take this opportunity of telling Sharon to end the occupation so that peace can return to the region,” Sha’ath said.

“The resolution of the Palestinian cause is linked to the stability in the Middle East,” he added.

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