Controversy erupts over entry of communication system to be gifted by India to Palestinian university

A controversy erupted on Monday with Israel unlikely to permit entry of four communication systems to a university in Palestine as part of IT equipment to be gifted by President Pranab Mukherjee to the educational institution.

PTI| Updated: Oct 12, 2015, 13:01 PM IST

Jerusalem: A controversy erupted on Monday with Israel unlikely to permit entry of four communication systems to a university in Palestine as part of IT equipment to be gifted by President Pranab Mukherjee to the educational institution.

Mukherjee is due to inaugurate the state of the art Information Technology Centre at Al-Quds University tomorrow and the four communication systems are its crucial components.

While Israeli customs today cleared the passage of 30 computers which were stuck at the Ashdod port to be moved to the university, the communication systems remained at Ben Gurion airport and is unlikely to be allowed to make their way to the IT Centre.

Officials in Jerusalem said that the computers were now on their way after customs clearance and will reach the Centre before Mukherjee's planned inauguration.

Israeli sources sought to downplay the controversy saying that the said communication systems cannot be allowed to enter because the law doesn't permit for the same.

"Like Indian laws do not permit satellite phones being carried into their territory, there are technical issues around frequencies involved in the communication systems that do not pass our legal requirements," they said.

Mukherjee is to be also conferred an honorary doctorate from Al-Quds University.

He will be in Palestine on the second leg of his three-nation historic visit to West Asia that will also take him to Israel. He concluded his visit to Jordan yesterday.

The new controversy came close on the heels of a much publicised objection from Israel to Mukherjee's visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque, given the tense security situation in the region.

India has always been a leading partner in educational support and cooperation to Palestine.

It has been at the forefront of capacity building process in Palestine extending hundreds of scholarships to Palestinian students under the ITEC programme to enable them to take up professional programmes in universities across India.

Al Quds University is caught in current clashes, going on since September after Israel banned the Al Aqsa mosque--the third holiest site of Islam located in the compound of Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif site also revered by Jews--for Palestinians following confrontations with Jewish visitors.

The University of Jordan yesterday honoured the President with a doctorate in Political science for his 50 years of exemplary service to the Indian people and mankind in general.