India regrets Mideast peace process failure

United Nations, April 19 (IANS) India has regretted the “downward trend in the peace process” for the Middle East but refrained from direct criticism of either Israel or the Palestinians for the escalation of tensions in the region.

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN Tanmaya Lal told the Security Council on Monday that attempts to revive the Palestinian-Israeli talks have failed and, “instead, we saw an unfortunate escalation in Gaza. Unilateral actions by the parties, unfortunately, are moving them further apart”.

He had participated in a Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East at which Israel faced a barrage of criticism from several nations, including long-time allies, over Israelis building settlements in the Palestinian territories and their retaliation for attacks by Palestinians.

In a continuing reflection of the closer ties developing between India and Israel, Lal refrained from direct criticism of Israel or even mentioning it except in one sentence about a Palestine state existing side-by-side with it. He, however, dealt an implied crticism of both sides by referring only to “the unilateral actions by the parties”.

At the same time, he spoke of “our continued commitment with the Palestinian cause and our friendship with the Palestinian people remain an integral part of India’s foreign policy” and reiterated India’s support for a two-state solution with “a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side at peace with Israel”.

On Yemen, Lal said India was “encouraged by the planned peace talks and hopes that these will commence soon and lead to positive outcomes”.

India contributed $4 million in assistance for Syrian refugees and participated in the February meeting in London on Syria where it committed to bilateral humanitarian assistance to Syria, he said.

“We hope that the intra-Syrian talks under UN auspices will ensure a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition, bringing an end to the violence in Syria and contribute to stabilising the country and the region,” he added.

Earlier, leading off the criticism of Israel, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “The creation of new facts on the ground through demolitions and settlement-building raises questions about whether Israel’s ultimate goal is in fact to drive Palestinians out of certain parts of the West Bank, thereby undermining any prospect of transition to a viable Palestinian State.”

Ban also criticised the Palestinians for the “continued failure of intra-Palestinian discussions to achieve genuine unity on the basis of non-violence, democracy and the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) principles”.

He said he was concerned by the discovery of tunnels going from Gaza into Israel and called upon the Palestinians to stop building attack tunnels and firing rockets into Israel.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

–Indo-Asian News Serice

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