United Nations: India has expressed concern over the downward trend in Middle East Peace Process, saying unilateral actions by parties involved are moving them further apart, as it criticised the UN Security Council for being a "standby witness" to the "unsettled issue."
India's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Asoke Mukerji, participating in a Security Council session on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said the powerful 15-member UN body has "at best been a standby witness to phases of escalation and relative calm which has become characteristic of this unsettled issue."
"The effectiveness of the Council has consequently been brought into question. We join others in urging the Council to step up its efforts and take the lead in resolving this problem," he said yesterday.
A year after the unfortunate Gaza conflict last year, Mukerji said India is "particularly worried" that since then there has been a downward trend in the peace process despite efforts for serious negotiations between the parties.
"Unilateral actions by the parties unfortunately are moving them further apart. India remains firmly convinced that dialogue remains the only viable option that can effectively address the issue," he said adding that the imperative need is for restraint, to avoid provocation and unilateral actions and to return to the peace process.
"We remain hopeful and urge both sides to resume the peace process soon, for a comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue," he said.
Mukerji also voiced "deep concern" with the activities of "proscribed outfits, radicalised and extremist groups" in the Middle East region especially in northern parts of Iraq and Syria which are affecting peace and stability in the region.
Efforts must be taken by all parties and stakeholders in the region to curb the dangerous trends of violence against civilians, he said.
"We believe the consolidation of political processes and solutions while building durable state institutions will be the effective way of addressing such extremism and radicalism in the region," he said.
Mukerji also told the UNSC that India is concerned at instances of targeting of UN peacekeepers in the region by proscribed terrorist groups and stressed that Security Council resolutions that condemn terrorist groups operating in the region need to be fully implemented.
"The early and effective prosecution of such groups is essential. Only such action endorsed by the Council will deter such groups in other parts of the world from committing acts of terror," he said.
Mukerji re-affirmed India's support for the cause of Palestine and solidarity with the Palestinian people for their struggle for a sovereign, independent, viable and a united State of Palestine within secure and recognised borders side-by-side and at peace with Israel with East Jerusalem as its capital.
He highlighted India's continued support to development and nation-building efforts of Palestine.
Earlier this month, a new School for Girls, Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary School for Girls in Asera Al-Shamalyeh was inaugurated.
"This is a part of India's larger capacity building initiatives in Palestine," he said.
With new flash points, as in Yemen, the Middle East region is becoming more volatile and stability of the region is being threatened, he said.
"Besides having implications for peace and stability as well as humanitarian situation, the conflicts also impose serious economic costs for the region and the whole world," Mukerji said.
With major shipping lanes passing through the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, the situation in Yemen has a considerable impact on the cost of shipping and in turn the regional and global trade.
"We urge all parties in Yemen to return to the negotiating table forthwith," Mukerji said.
He informed the UNSC that India welcomed the conclusion of negotiations between Iran and the five world powers.
"India has maintained that diplomatic dialogue is the only effective way to resolve issues," he said.
On Syria, Mukerji reiterated India's support to a Syrian-led, comprehensive political solution to the ongoing crisis, in alignment with the Geneva Communique of 2012.
"The humanitarian crisis arising out of the situation has to be addressed effectively," he said.
"We are also hopeful and supportive of the efforts made by the UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan De Mistura to carry forward the political process. We urge all parties to demonstrate the requisite political will, exercise restraint, and commit to seeking common ground in accommodating their differences," he said.