Israel needs to stop settlement activity: India

Regretting the lack of progress in resolving the Palestinian stalemate, India has said the issue faces a "real danger".

United Nations: Regretting the lack of progress in resolving the Palestinian stalemate, India has said the issue faces a "real danger" of being relegated to the sidelines even as it asked Israel to stop its settlement activity in West Bank and east Jerusalem.

While democratic aspirations of people in several countries in the Arab world are being addressed through national political processes, it is "regrettable" that the Palestinian question and the related Arab-Israeli issues have largely remained "unaddressed and unresolved," India`s Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said at a UN Security Council open debate on `Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question` here.

He said Palestine had submitted its application for full UN membership more than a year ago but the process has not evinced any positive action from the Security Council despite overwhelming support from the UN member-states.

"The issue of Palestine is facing the real danger of getting relegated to the sidelines.

The efforts of the Quartet can at best be described as feeble and have failed to break the stalemate.

If this situation continues, the international community will risk destabilisation in the region," Puri said adding that the current period of stalemate in the Middle East peace process is one of the longest in over 20 years.

India called for serious efforts to arrest the trend.
Puri noted that an end to settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories can help revive the peace process.

The settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is creating a new ground reality and threaten the very premise of a two-state solution, he said.

Settlements and road blocks have exacerbated the humanitarian problems of the Palestinian people and also adversely affect the normal functioning of Palestinian state institutions.

"We join others in urging Israel to stop its settlement policy without further delay," he said.

Puri expressed concern that the blockade of Gaza, which has entered its sixth year, has led to deterioration of the humanitarian situation.

He urged Israel to immediately lift the blockade, paving the way for resumption of normal socio-economic activities in Gaza and to enable its people to reduce their dependence on external assistance.

Puri termed as positive the recent measures taken by
Israel, including transfer of tax revenue, increase in work permits to the Palestinian population and visits of Palestinian families to meet prisoners held in Israeli detention.

"These measures are, however, inadequate to address the magnitude of the problems, and need to be built upon to promote mutual trust and confidence between the parties," he said.

Puri outlined India`s support to Palestinian state building efforts.

During President Mahmoud Abbas`s visit to India last month, the two sides signed three agreements for establishment of an information and communication technology Centre of Excellence in Palestine, provision of technical and vocational education training equipment and services for the Palestinian Ministry of Labour, and construction and equipping of two secondary schools in Asera Al Shamalyeh and Abu Dis.

Like in the last two years, India would also contribute USD 10 million to Palestine`s budget for this year.

"India reaffirmed its firm support for 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.

We strongly support all efforts towards realisation of that objective, including Palestine`s enhanced status in this organisation," he said.

Puri also expressed India`s serious concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria, strongly condemning all violence and violations of human rights irrespective of who the perpetrators are.

"We also condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist acts that have been and continue to be committed in Syria. We call upon all parties to dissociate themselves from terrorist groups and ensure that no space is provided for these groups," he added.