No alternative to two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians: India

New Delhi’s position was outlined in a statement by Vikas Swarup, secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, at a UN Security Council meeting on the Palestine issue on Thursday
Vikas Swarup, secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry. (HT file photo)
Vikas Swarup, secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry. (HT file photo)
Published on Jun 25, 2021 04:34 PM IST
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India has emphasised that there is no alternative to the two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, and said the peace process can’t be put on the back burner amid concerns about tensions increasing again in Gaza.

New Delhi’s position was outlined in a statement by Vikas Swarup, secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, at a UN Security Council meeting on the Palestine issue on Thursday. India urged all parties to honour the May 20 ceasefire arrangement to ensure the situation doesn’t “spiral out of control”.

The ceasefire, declared after 11 days of rocket and air attacks across the border area between Gaza and southern Israel, has come under strain following a march by right-wing Israeli activists through Jerusalem’s Old City and rallies in Gaza Strip by Islamic forces that led to incendiary balloon attacks at Israel.

“The peace process can no longer be kept on the back burner. The continuation of the impasse only exacerbates the trust deficit between the parties and increases the chances of cycle of violence to recur,” Swarup said.

“There is no alternative to a two-state solution for ensuring meaningful and enduring peace,” he said, adding that India wants all parties to “de-escalate the situation [and] refrain from acts of provocation, intimidation and incitement that exacerbates tensions”.

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, told the Security Council meeting that the world body is working closely with all parties and partners to solidify the ceasefire, allow the entry of humanitarian aid and stabilise the situation in Gaza. 

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The hostilities in May left more than 240 people dead, including more than 230 Palestinians and 12 people killed in Israel in rocket attacks by Hamas and other extremist groups. Wennesland urged all sides to “refrain from unilateral steps and provocations” and to reduce tensions.

Swarup expressed concern at the fresh tensions. “After a period of brief calm, tensions are rising again in Gaza. The launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza targeting civilians in Israel and the retaliatory strikes into Gaza threaten to restart the cycle of violence, which caused immense suffering and resulted in deaths recently,” he said.

Describing the situation in West Bank as volatile, Swarup said that India is “concerned at the potential for renewed violence in East Jerusalem and other parts of West Bank over the legal process that could lead to possible evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem”.

He added, “Any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo that undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution should also be avoided.” Incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, as witnessed during the recent escalation, would only drive and fuel violence, he noted.

The world community’s attention shouldn’t be diverted from the immediate needs of humanitarian aid for the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza, and there should be reinforced cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian authorities for humanitarian aid delivery, including food and medicines and movement of patients in and out of Gaza, the Indian statement said.

The rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza should be prioritised, and India recognises the centrality of the Palestinian Authority for delivering international aid to the local people, Swarup said.

“We take note of the postponement of the reconciliation meeting of all Palestinian parties that had been facilitated by Egypt and hope that the parties overcome the current stalemate. We believe that intra-Palestinian unity is critical for achieving a peaceful settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict,” he said.

Referring to the stalled Middle East peace process, the Indian side emphasised the need to immediately resume the process and direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

“India supports all diplomatic efforts, including by the Quartet, which are aimed at strengthening the collective commitment of the international community to resume these negotiations and facilitate the peace process,” Swarup said, while reaffirming India’s “unwavering commitment” to establishing an independent, viable, democratic state of Palestine.

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