'We Palestinians Condemn Ambassador Sharing Stage With Hafiz Saeed'

Palestinian envoy to Pakistan Waleed Abu Ali with 26/11 mastermindd Hafiz Saeed at Rawalpindi rally

Palestine has very close ties with India and has always supported India's fight against terror.

Palestinian envoy Walid Abu Ali shared the stage with Hafiz Saeed, the head of the hard-line Jamaat-ud-Dawa movement, at Friday's rally, which was held to protest USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

In a statement addressed to India, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the envoy's participation "in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism" was "an unintended mistake, but not justified".

The Palestinian side too had conveyed "deep regrets", assuring India that they will take serious cognisance of their ambassador's presence at the event.

"The spokesman for the Palestinian Foreign Ministry stresses the commitment of the State of Palestine and its keenness to maintain good relations with the friendly Republic of India, as well as its support for the efforts of the Republic of India in its war against terrorism", noted the Palestinian foreign ministry's statement.

"Government of India has strongly conveyed to the Palestinian side that the Palestinian Ambassador in Pakistan's association with terrorist Hafiz Saeed, who is proscribed by the United Nations, at an event in Rawalpindi on 29.12.2017, is unacceptable. But still, we can not find this acceptable... and the Palestinian government has made a decision to take action", he said.

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The meeting generated sharp reactions from the foreign ministry, saying that it would take up the matter "strongly".

India and the Palestinian Authority are also discussing a possible visit to Ramallah by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February - seen by some here as a conciliatory gesture in connection with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India in January.

Saeed, who was last month set free from a 300-day-long house arrest, has been repeatedly accused by the United States and India of masterminding the 2008 attacks on the Indian financial capital Mumbai that killed 166 people. "We take note of the assurances given by the Palestine side", the MEA statement said.

Ali and Saeed shared the state during the event.

Addressing the rally which was attended by thousands of people, Saeed said India and Israel had formed a coalition that had the USA as a patron. India, in a statement, said the meeting with worldwide terrorists was unacceptable.

The action of the Palestinian envoy in Pakistan came days after India voted with the rest of the world in favour of an Arab resolution in the UN General Assembly rejecting US President Donald Trump's decision recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In fact, when Saeed spoke, he asked people around him who he was... and then the Ambassador gave his own speech and left the stage. In early December, he had met Pakistan's Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

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