The Middle East peace process can no longer be kept on the back burner, India told the UN Security Council on Thursday, underscoring the need for immediate resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Addressing the UN Security Council meeting on Middle East (Including the Palestinian question), Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup also urged all parties to deescalate the situation and refrain from acts of provocation.
"The peace process can no longer be kept on the back burner. The continuation of the impasse only exacerbates the trust deficit between the parties and increases the chances of cycle of violence to recur," he said. Swarup underscored the need for immediate resumption of the Middle East Peace Process and direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. "India supports all diplomatic efforts, including by the Quartet, which are aimed at strengthening the collective commitment of the international community to resume these negotiations and facilitate the peace process," he said.
Reaffirming India's unwavering commitment to the establishment of an independent, viable, democratic State of Palestine, Swarup asserted that there is "no alternative" to a two-state solution for ensuring meaningful and enduring peace. He voiced concern over the recent developments in Palestine, saying after a period of brief calm, tensions are rising again in Gaza.
"The launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza targeting civilians in Israel and the retaliatory strikes into Gaza threaten to restart the cycle of violence, which caused immense suffering and resulted in deaths recently. We urge all parties to honour the ceasefire arrangement to ensure that the situation does not spiral out of control," Swarup said. He also noted with concern that the situation in West Bank continues to remain volatile. "We are concerned at the potential for renewed violence in East Jerusalem and other parts of West Bank over the legal process that could lead to possible evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. Incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, as witnessed during the recent escalation, only drives and fuels violence, Swarup said.
India urged all parties to deescalate the situation, refrain from acts of provocation, intimidation and incitement that exacerbate tensions. "Any attempt to unilaterally change the status-quo that undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution should also be avoided," he told the Council. India further highlighted that attention of the international community should not be diverted from the immediate needs of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza.
"Such assistance should reach the Palestinian people through verified channels. We call for reinforced cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities in the area of humanitarian aid delivery, including food and medicine, and movement of patients in and out of Gaza." Swarup added that rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza should also be prioritised. India recognises the centrality of the Palestinian Authority for delivery of international assistance to the Palestinian people, he said, adding that New Delhi encourages all Palestinian parties to work with the Palestinian Authority to ensure the well-being of the people of Palestine. "We take note of the postponement of the reconciliation meeting of all Palestinian parties that had been facilitated by Egypt and hope that the parties overcome the current stalemate. We believe that intra-Palestinian unity is critical for achieving a peaceful settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict." .