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India asks Israel to end its settlement activity

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.

United Nations: 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 yesterday.

"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.

"India will continue to support Palestine`s bid for full and equal membership of the United Nations," he said, adding that India supports a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine living within secure and recognised borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, side by side and at peace with Israel.

Puri welcomed the recent rapprochement between various Palestinian factions hoping that efforts towards promotion of reconciliation would lead to the formation a Unity Government, holding of elections and reunification of Palestinian state institutions.

India has pledged USD 10 million as budgetary support to Palestine this year and also contributes a million dollars annually to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Following the three agreements signed during the visit of President Mahmoud Abbas to India in September last year, India is in the process of implementing projects in the fields of information and communication technology, vocational training and construction of schools.

On Syria, Puri said India remains "seriously concerned" at the deteriorating security situation and continuing violence in the country.

"We strongly condemn all violence and violations of human rights irrespective of who their perpetrators are. We also condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist acts that have been and continue to be committed in Syria," he said.

India urged all parties to stop violence and engage in an inclusive national dialogue to resolve the conflict through peaceful means.


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