Respect the ceasefire and refrain from actions that could exacerbate tensions and worsen the security situation in the Middle-East, the Foreign Secretary said

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday said India will remain fully supportive of all measures to restart the stalled peace process in the Middle-East.

He welcomed the high-level interaction between Israel and Palestine, saying it will contribute to a better environment for the resumption of direct peace negotiations between the two sides.

“We hope to see early commencement of these negotiations between the two sides as they provide the best opportunity to resolve all final status issues and achieve a two-state solution. The international community, the Middle-East quarter in particular has a role in this,” Shringla said, while speaking on the theme of ‘The situation in the Middle-East, including the Palestinian question’ at the UN Security Council.

“Given our long-standing and firm commitment to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine with secure, recognized and mutually agreed borders living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security, India will remain fully supportive of all measures to restart the peace process,” Shringla said.

“We are concerned by the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip which once again underscores the fragility of the ceasefire and the urgent need for addressing the underlying causes that triggered the escalation,” he noted.

“We recognize the efforts made by the United Nations and regional countries to prevent the hostilities from escalating into another military conflict,” he added.

Shringla reaffirmed India’s call for regular and predictable transfer of aid and other essential items to Gaza to ease the humanitarian situation and facilitate early reconstruction as well as appropriate use of such aid it is important that the international donor community supports the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip through the Palestinian authorities.

He took note of the incremental relaxation of restrictions for entry of commodities to the Gaza strip and urge the parties to work together to ensure timely access to such relief material for the Palestinians.

“This would create conditions which would help in preventing another round of escalation, Shringla pointed out.

The recent agreement for the resumption of cash assistance to the needy Palestinian families in the Gaza strip is an important development as it will provide much needed relief for these families, he stated while also appreciating the work of UN agencies to ensure delivery of critical aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza strip.

Maintaining that the West Bank continues to witness incidents of violence in clashes between the Palestinians and Israeli security forces, he argued both sides must desist from provocative actions in the interests of peace and security.

“We note the progress in the legal challenge in the eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and underscore the need for respecting the historic status quo in East Jerusalem and its neighbourhood,” Shringla stated.

He urged parities to refrain from unilateral activities that undermine the viability of a two-state solution.

Amidst these concerns the decision by Israel to increase the work permits issued to Palestinians will help strengthen both the Palestinian and Israeli economies, Shringla said.

Further, the Covid-19 vaccination certificates issued by the Palestinian authority and the facilitation of passage of patients from the Gaza Strip West Bank are also positive signals, he said.

“India welcomes all measures which create greater opportunities for the socio-economic development of the Palestinian people,” the Foreign Secretary said.

Explaining that India’s developmental cooperation with Palestine is also geared toward this objective, he said India has helped in building schools, setting up ICT and vocational training centers, a technology park and a national printing press and are supporting several projects in Palestine.