New York: India has asked Israel to end its settlement activity in West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying such a move is creating "new realities" on the ground and is threatening the very premise of a two-state solution with Palestine.
"Developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.. have been most unhelpful for the Palestinian cause," India`s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said, at a Security Council open debate on "the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, here on Wednesday.
"The intensification of settlement activities by Israel, despite widespread international condemnation, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are creating new realities on the ground, thereby threatening the very premise of a two-state solution," Puri said.
"We join others in urging Israel to end the settlement activity in order for the Palestinian side to come to the negotiating table," he said.
Puri expressed concern that no direct talks have taken place between Israel and Palestine for more than two years and said the continuing stalemate in the Middle East peace process is not in the interest of the region.
He said settlements, roadblocks and related infrastructure of occupation continue to cause severe hardships to the Palestinian population and adversely affect the normal functioning of Palestinian state institutions.
The Palestinian Authority is also facing severe financial crisis, which threatens to erode the progress made in building Palestinian state institutions, he said.
The blockade of Gaza, which is in its sixth year, is affecting essential services, economic activities and infrastructure development.
Puri said while Israel has taken measures to allow flow of essential goods into Gaza, these cannot be a substitute for lifting the blockade.
"Recent hostilities in Gaza are again a stark reminder to the international community of the dangers that continuing stalemate in the peace process can bring about. We hope both parties will continue to uphold the ceasefire agreement and implement its provisions in good faith," he said.
Puri noted that the overwhelming vote in the General Assembly in November last year, upgrading the status of Palestine to a non-member state is a "decisive achievement" for Palestine in its long and arduous struggle to reach its final goal of an independent and viable Palestinian State.