NEW YORK: President Mahinda Rajapaksa officially handed over Sri Lanka’s US$1 million donation to Palestine when he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this afternoon on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
President Rajapaksa, who has been a long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause and is the Founder President of the Sri Lanka Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, announced the donation in August of this year.
At the meeting, President Abbas told President Rajapaksa how much he and the Palestinian people appreciate Sri Lanka’s support and, particularly, the President’s continued commitment to the Palestinian cause. President Abbas also briefed President Rajapaksa of the current situation in both the West Bank and Gaza, and also talked about the challenges the people are facing in those regions.
During the six previous times President Rajapaksa has addressed the UNGA since assuming office in 2005, he has advocated the Palestinian cause at every single address. He did so this year as well.
“The escalation of violence in the Middle East is deeply distressing,” President Rajapaksa said in his address to the General Assembly the previous day. “I reiterate Sri Lanka’s support for the early realisation of a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, existing within secure and recognised borders, side-by-side and at peace with Israel. We look forward to welcoming Palestine as a full member of the UN at the earliest.”
In January of this year, President Rajapaksa made his first visit to Palestine on his tour of the region that also included Jordan and Israel. During that visit, the Government of Palestine conferred President Rajapaksa with the “Star of Palestine” – the highest award of the State of Palestine – for the President’s continued support and commitment to the Palestinian cause.
Sri Lanka recognised Palestine as a state in 1988.
Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Secretary to the President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Dr. Palitha Kohona were present during the meeting.(KH)