At UNSC meet, Shringla talks of ceasefire fragility, escalation in Gaza strip
Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday expressed concern over the recent escalation of tension in the Gaza strip while chairing a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the prevailing situation in the Middle East. He said the crisis once again underscored the fragility of ceasefire and urgent need for addressing the underlying causes that had triggered the escalation.
Addressing the meeting in his national capacity, Shringla called on all parties to the conflict to refrain from acts that could exacerbate tensions and worsen the security situation in the region.
“We recognise the efforts made by the UN and regional countries to prevent the hostilities from escalating into another military conflict,” Shringla said at the meeting, titled ‘Middle East Peace Process, including the Palestine Question’.
“I reaffirm India’s call for regular and predictable transfer of aid and other essential items to Gaza to ease the humanitarian situation and facilitate early reconstruction, as well as for appropriate use of such aid,” the foreign secretary said.
Shringla also stressed on "high-level interaction" between Israel and Palestine that contributed to a better environment for the resumption of direct peace negotiations.
"We hope to see early commencement of these negotiations between the two sides, as they provide the best opportunity to resolve all final status issues and achieve a two-state solution. The international community, the Middle East Quartet in particular, has an important role to play in reviving these negotiations," he said.
“It is also important that the international donor community supports the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip through the Palestinian authority,” he said.
"The West Bank continues to witness incidents of violence and clashes between the Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Both sides must desist from provocative actions in the interest of peace and stability,” Shringla said.
"We note the progress in the legal challenge to the eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and underscore the need for respecting the historic status quo in East Jerusalem and its neighbourhoods. We also urge parties to refrain from unilateral actions that undermine the viability of the two-State solution," he added.
He underlined that "given our long-standing and firm commitment to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine, within secure, recognised and mutually agreed borders, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, India will remain fully supportive of all efforts to restart the peace process."
His remarks comes a day after Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Sunday, the first high-level meeting between the two sides in years.
In his speech, Shringla noted that the decision by Israel to increase the number of work permits issued to Palestinians will help strengthen both the Palestinian and Israeli economies.
"Further, the recognition of COVID-vaccination certificates issued by the Palestinian Authority and the facilitation of passage of patients from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank are also positive signals," he said.
Speaking about India’s contribution, Shringla said the country had helped in building schools, setting up ICT and vocational training centres, a technology park and a national printing press; and is also supporting several other quick-impact community projects in Palestine.
(With agency inputs)