India on Thursday backed the establishment of an 'independent, viable, and democratic State of Palestine' and called for an end to the decades-long conflict in the Middle-East. At a session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), India called for the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine and said that there is no alternative to a "two-state solution" for ensuring enduring peace in the region.
"India is committed to the establishment of an independent, viable, democratic State of Palestine. There is no alternative to a two-state solution for ensuring meaningful and enduring peace," said the secretary (west) of India's ministry of external affairs Vikas Swarup at the UNSC session. He further said that any attempt to unilaterally change the status-quo that undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution should also be avoided.
India's comments come in the backdrop of recent escalations in the conflict between Israel and Palestine after a series of missile strikes from the Israel Defence Forces earmarked civilian settlements in the Gaza Strip, violating a ceasefire arrangement on 16 June that was in place since 21 May.
At the UNSC session, India's MEA secretary said, "After a period of brief calm, tensions are rising again in Gaza. The launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza targeting civilians in Israel and the retaliatory strikes into Gaza threatens to restart the cycle of violence, which caused immense suffering and resulted in deaths recently."
"Recent developments in Palestine are of concern. They can restart the cycle of violence, resulting in immense suffering and deaths. We urge both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to honour the ceasefire arrangement. There's a need for immediate resumption of the Middle East Peace Process and direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. India supports all diplomatic efforts, including by the Quartet, to strengthen the collective commitment of the international community for a peace process," he added.
India's representative to the UN said that the need of the hour is to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza. All Palestinian parties should work with the authority to ensure the well-being of civilians affected by conflict and deliver required assistance to the people, India said.
"We call for reinforced cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities in the area of humanitarian aid delivery, including food and medicine, and movement of patients in and out of Gaza," added Swarup.
Israel and Hamas concluded 11 days of fighting during which hundreds of rockets were launched from both Israel and Palestine sides. According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, 253 Palestinians were killed during the fighting, including 66 children, while 13 Israelis, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier, were killed.