India expresses strong concern over Gaza blockade

December 2nd, 2008 - 5:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) India Tuesday reiterated its strong concern over Israel’s months-long blockade of Gaza strip, saying there could be “no justification for the denial of essential supplies, including food and fuel, to the civilian population” in the territory.”We remain concerned with the isolation of Gaza and the recent upsurge of violence there. We also remain concerned at the adverse effects of the closure of access points into the strip on the prevailing humanitarian situation,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at the inauguration of the Indo-Arab Cooperation Forum, a cultural event being held to celebrate the relations between India and the Arab world.

Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa was the chief guest at the function.

“Like any other people of the world, Palestinian people must also be given the right to live in a safe and dignified manner,” the minister said.

Mukherjee noted that India had always supported the Palestinian cause and that there was much popular support for Palestine among the Indian people.

“We have also called for an end to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and for an early and significant easing of restrictions on the free movement of persons and goods within Palestine,” he said.

Israel sealed off its crossings with Gaza - the impoverished territory’s main gateway for food and humanitarian aid - as well as its maritime borders after the Hamas movement seized power there in June 2007.

Expressing concern about the “lack of progress in the peace process”, Mukherjee said India supported UN resolutions calling for a “sovereign, independent, viable and united” Palestinian state.

Terming the Arab peace initiative as a “significant move”, Mukherjee said: “We feel that the (US-sponsored) Annapolis process needs to be taken forward,” he said.

Mukherjee and Moussa inaugurated the six-day event Tuesday, which includes a handicrafts exhibition, film festival besides performances of artists from the Arab world.

Moussa said both India and the nations of the Arab League should increase cooperation, as they had “similar aspirations”.

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