In 'Historic Palestine Visit,' India's Modi Hails Arafat as 'One of World's Greatest Leaders'

Indian president trip includes talks with Abbas, where he is expected to ask for help in removing U.S. from peace talks

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi walks with Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah upon his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 10, 2018.
ABBAS MOMANI/AFP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Ramallah on Saturday morning for a "historic visit to Palestine," as the first Indian prime minister to ever embark on such a visit. Modi arrived to the Palestinian territories from Jordan, flying in with his officials on helicopters supplied by King Abdullah II of Jordan.

In Ramallah, Modi was recieved by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and later met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who he was expected to ask for Modi's help in finding a new mediator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in place of the United States.

Modi's trip included a visit to the Yasser Arafat museum, "in honor of the departed leader," as it was described by the Indian Foreign Ministry ahead of the visit. Following the visit, Modi tweeted that "Abu Ammar [Afafat] was one of the greatest world leaders. His contribution to Palestine is historical. He was a good friend of India. I paid tributes to him in Ramallah.

The Indian Foreign Ministry said that the purpose of the "historic visit" was to express India's commitment to "deepening ties with Palestine." It stressed that "in the past few years, India has contributed significantly to the Palestinian cause."

India's Modi visits Palestinian West Bank, meets AbbasReuters

Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel in July of 2017. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally toured Modi around the country, showing him advances in Israeli water technology.

Narenda Modi lays a wreath on the grave of Yasser Arafat on a visit to the Palestinian territories on February 10, 2018.
Rami Hamdallah Twitter

Netanyahu was recently in India for a six-day visit in what he hailed as the beginning of a new era of friendship between the two nations. The Israeli premier's visit came nearly six months after Modi visited Israel in what he similarly hailed as a historic visit.

Then, Modi and Netanyahu inaugurated a center for technological innovation and announced a plan for cooperation between start-ups from both countries, which aims to combine Israel’s technology knowledge with India’s product development capabilities. They also signed a series of agreements in relation to trade, tourism, gas, exploration and more. Modi and Netanyahu also made sure to emphasize their warm personal friendship.