‘Palestine`s UN membership must be unconditional’

India on Tuesday said Palestine`s membership to the world body should not be made "conditional" upon a peace agreement.

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2011, 15:01 PM IST

United Nation: Expressing hope that the
process to grant Palestinian request for statehood at the UN
would be concluded expeditiously, India on Tuesday said Palestine`s
membership to the world body should not be made "conditional"
upon a peace agreement.

India reiterated its support to the Palestinian statehood
request saying the call of the international community for
democracy and respect of fundamental rights will "sound hollow
if the present impasse continues and Palestinians are denied
their aspirations."

"We cannot make Palestine`s membership to the United
Nations conditional upon a peace agreement for that will be
legally untenable, even while we support resumption of direct
talks to resolve the outstanding issues," Minister of State
for External Affairs E Ahamed said at a Security Council
debate on the situation in the Middle East and Palestine.

He said India, which was the first non-Arab country to
recognize the State of Palestine in 1988, hopes that the
Palestinian application process will be "concluded
expeditiously" given that Palestine fulfills all criteria
mentioned in UN Charter for membership.

Ahamed said the issue of Palestine took a "decisive turn"
in the history of the Middle East conflict after President
Mahmoud Abbas filed the application with the UN Secretary
General last month.

India`s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said in his
address to the General Assembly on September 24 that India
looked forward to welcoming Palestine as an equal member of
the United Nations.

India recognizes the democratic aspirations of all
people, including in the Middle East, Ahamed said.

India has continued its development support to the
Palestinian Authority, enhancing from the year 2009-10 its
annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency to a million dollars.

During the last two years, India has also contributed USD
10 million annually as untied budgetary support to the
Palestinian Authority.

Noting that while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the
most serious one in the region, Ahamed said the international
community still needs to keep in mind that resolution of this
conflict by itself will not achieve comprehensive and durable
peace in the region.

"Other issues relating to Arab lands that remain under
occupation are equally important. Progress in the Lebanese and
Syrian tracks of the Middle East peace process is, therefore,
necessary for comprehensive and lasting peace in the region,"
he said.

He underscored the importance of addressing grievances of
the people in the Middle East through dialogue and
negotiations rather than resorting to arms.

"No action should be taken from outside that exacerbates
problems and gives space for the rise of extremism," he said,
adding that the international community should be ready to
assist the countries in the region while respecting their
sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

"Observance of the rule of law is as important in
international affairs as it is within countries. Guided by
these principles, India stands ready to play its role in our
collective endeavours to achieve a just and comprehensive
peace in the Middle East," he said.

PTI