United Nations/Geneva: Expressing deep concern over the escalating conflict in Gaza, India on Wednesday said dialogue remains the only viable option to resolve issues between Israel and Palestine, as it called on both sides to return to the negotiating table.
"We remain hopeful that a sustainable ceasefire will be reached between the two sides, linked to the resumption of the peace process, for a comprehensive?resolution of the Palestinian issue," India`s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji said at the UN Security Council open debate on `The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question`.
"India remains firmly convinced that dialogue remains the only viable option that can effectively address the issues confronting the region and its people. We?hope that both sides will demonstrate the necessary political will to agree to a ceasefire and return to the negotiating table," Mukerji said.
He said India is "deeply concerned" at the steep escalation in the conflict between Israel and Palestine that has resulted in a large number of civilian casualties and heavy damage to property.
Mukerji said India is following the current situation in the region with great deal of concern.
"We have called upon both sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid taking actions that may further exacerbate the situation and threaten the peace and security of the region. India supports all efforts for an immediate ceasefire between the parties involved," he said.
Mukerji highlighted India`s deep association and continuing commitment to Palestine that is rooted in the country`s modern history.
"We would also like to reiterate our support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue based on the relevant UN resolutions, the Arab Peace Plan and the Quartet Roadmap resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side and at peace with Israel," he said.
India`s assertions came as bloodbath in Gaza continued unabated today with Israel and Hamas refusing to back down in the 16-day conflict that has killed over 660 Palestinians and 31 Israelis.