'Knight of Peace' faces protests by students

President Pranab Mukherjee, who was hailed as a “Knight of Peace” at a university in Jerusalem that was honouring him, was greeted by angry Palestinian students outside campus

East Jerusalem: Angry Palestinian students yesterday protested against India’s growing friendship with Israel at a university campus in East Jerusalem even as President Pranab Mukherjee was being conferred an honorary degree.

Hundreds of students shouted slogans and carried placards critical of India’s ties with the Jewish state while Mukherjee was being honoured by Al-Quds University at Abu Dis and hailed as a “Knight of Peace”. Placards with slogans like, “India why do you cooperate with the occupiers (Israel)”, “Indian President raise your voice against Israel’s aggression”, and “Indian President don’t keep quiet against the butchers slaying Palestinians” were carried by the students as Mukherjee was leaving the campus in East Jerusalem.

The demonstration came in the middle of heightened tensions and more killings between Israelis and Palestinians, which have resulted in hundreds of casualties, including some only yesterday (see box). Inside the university auditorium, where Palestine’s Prime Minister Dr Rami Hamadallah was among those present, Mukherjee received loud cheers when he mentioned all the help rendered by India to the Palestinians.

In his acceptance speech at the university, the President said peace and stability in the Middle East region is in India’s interest and proposed a three-pillar framework to propel its historic ties with Palestine besides building a second IT centre in Gaza.

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