India urges Israel, Palestine to resume direct talks

December 15th, 2011 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) Reiterating its support for the creation of an independent state of Palestine, India Thursday called for the resumption of direct talks between Palestine and Israel for the final resolution of the conflict.

“India had welcomed the direct talks between Israel and Palestine. The continued stalemate in the situation and hardening of positions is a matter of concern,” Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed said at a function to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

It was organised by Indian Council of World Affairs, a premier think tank. “We are hopeful of resumption of direct talks leading to final resolution of the conflict,” Ahamed added.

“As a responsible member of the international community and as a country with long-established ties with West Asia, India desires to see a peaceful resolution to tensions in the region through peaceful dialogue,” he said.

The Quartet on the Middle East comprising the US, EU, UN and Russia had in September envisaged a framework for resolving the Palestinian issue that included an initial meeting between the two sides within 30 days, leading to the exchange of comprehensive proposals on security and territory within three months, and an overall agreement by the end of 2012.

However, there have been no direct talks between the two sides, stalling this ambitious peace initiative.

The envoys of the Quartet Wednesday held separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials to to kick-start stalled peace talks and stressed the need for “a direct exchange between the parties without delay or preconditions.” But there has been no headway, with both Israeli and Palestinian envoys continuing with their blame game.

In his speech, Ahamed stressed that India has had always supported “a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, side by side and at peace with the state of Israel”.

India was the first non-Arab State to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organisation as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1975. In 1988, India became one of the first countries to recognize the state of Palestine and opened its Representative Office in Palestine in 1996 following the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority.

Alluding to multi-faceted assistance provided by New Delhi to Palestine, Ahamed said India had extended further budgetary support of $10 million to the Palestine National Authority in 2009 and 2010 to assist in reconstruction and development. During his visit to Palestine last month, Ahamed handed over a cheque of $1 million as India’s annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for 2011-12.

Underlining the importance of the energy-rich West Asia, home to an over 5-million strong Indian diaspora, Ahamed called for resolving regional tensions through dialogue and peaceful negotiations.

“India wishes to see the creation of an environment for the earliest possible resumption of dialogue. We share the perception that the conflict in West Asia is essentially political in nature and cannot be resolved by force,” he stressed.

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