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Statement by Foreign Secretary at UNSC meeting on the Middle East Peace Process, including the Palestine Question

August 30, 2021

I thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for his briefing. I also note the presence of the representatives of Israel and Palestine in this Chamber.

2. We are concerned by the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip, which once again underscores the fragility of the ceasefire and the urgent need for addressing the underlying causes that have triggered the escalation. We call on all parties to the conflict to respect the ceasefire and refrain from acts that could exacerbate tensions and worsen the security situation.We recognize the efforts made by the UN and regional countries to prevent the hostilities from escalating into another military conflict.

3. 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. It is also important that the international donor community supports the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip through the Palestinian Authority. We take note of the incremental relaxation of restrictions for entry of commodities into the Gaza Strip and urge the parties to work together to ensure timely access to such relief for the Palestinians. This would create conditions which will help in preventing another round of escalation.

4. The recent agreement for the resumption of cash assistance to needy Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip is an important development as it would provide much needed relief for these families. We also appreciate the work of agencies like OCHA, UNRWA, WFP to ensure delivery of critical aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

5. The West Bank continues to witness incidents of violence and clashes between the Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Both sides must desist from provocative action in the interest of peace and stability. 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.

6. Amidst these concerns, 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. India welcomes all measures which create greater opportunities for the socio-economic development of the Palestinian people. India’s development cooperation with Palestine is also geared towards this objective. We have helped in building schools, setting up ICT and Vocational Training Centres, a Technology Park and a National Printing Press; and are supporting several other quick-impact community projects in Palestine.

7. High-level interaction between Israel and Palestine contributes 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.

8. Given our long-standing and firm commitment to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine, within secure, recognized 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.

I thank you.

I will now resume my duties, as the President of the Security Council.


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