Singapore doubles amount it will give Palestinians for capacity-building

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (right) shakes hands with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his visit to the West Bank town of Ramallah on April 20, 2016.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (right) shakes hands with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his visit to the West Bank town of Ramallah on April 20, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

RAMALLAH - Singapore is committed to supporting Palestinians to build their capacity and skills, and will double the sum of its enhanced technical assistance package from S$5 million to S$10million.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made this commitment at a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah on Wednesday, Mr Lee's press secretary Chang Li Lin told reporters after the meeting.

Mr Lee, the first Singapore prime minister to visit the Palestinian Territories, also encouraged the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to resume negotiations to find a just and durable peace in a two-state solution - with Israel and Palestine living side by side.

Under the package, Singapore has hosted study visits for Palestinian officials in areas such as education, anti-corruption reform and economic development.

Singapore will also share its experience in vocational and skills training.

"PM Hamdallah welcomed this as the Palestinians valued their friendship with Singapore," Ms Chang said. "He expressed appreciation for Singapore's assistance as education was a key focus for the Palestinians."

Dr Hamdallah received Mr Lee at his office in the Palestinian Territories on Wednesday morning.

Both men then visited the mausoleum of Yasser Arafat, the first president of the Palestinian Authority, where Mr Lee laid a wreath before Mr Hamdallah hosted him to lunch.

Dr Hamdallah welcomed the first visit by a Singapore PM to the Territories and conveyed the warm greetings of President Mahmoud Abbas, who is overseas.

Mr Lee invited Dr Hamdallah to make a reciprocal visit to Singapore, which he accepted.

Mr Lee also reiterated the standing invitation for President Abbas to visit Singapore.

Dr Hamdallah briefed the Singapore delegation about the situation in the Palestinian Territories and reaffirmed the PNA's commitment to the two-state solution.

PM Lee had, at a meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, reiterated

Singapore's hope that the Israelis and Palestinians can restart talks for a two-state solution.

It was a point he made again when Israel's Leader of the Opposition Isaac Herzog called on him on Wednesday morning.

Both men had an exchange of views on developments in Israel and the region, Ms Chang said.

"Mr Herzog agreed that the two-state solution remains the only viable option to achieve a just and durable peace for Israel and Palestine," she added.

Mr Lee also visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the morning and Muslim leaders showed him around the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

zakirh@sph.com.sg