India has voiced support towards the ‘just’ cause of Palestine amid the deadly conflict with Israel in which nearly 200 people have died so far.
India on Sunday delivered a statement at the United Nations Security Council debate on ‘the situation in the Middle East’. India’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador TS Tirumurti delivered the remarks balancing India’s position vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine amid the ongoing conflict between the two sides.
There are a few important takeaways from the statement. While on the one hand the statement reiterates India’s “unwavering” commitment to the two-State solution, the statement also “condemned” the “indiscriminate” rocket firing from Gaza and called the Israeli strikes “retaliatory” in nature and not an act of aggression as many countries have called it.
Ambassador Tirumurti, at the outset of his speech, spoke of the immense suffering caused by the violence, including the killing of Indian national Soumya Santhosh, in Rocket Fire in Israel’s Ashkelon.
The ambassador also stressed India’s strong condemnation of all acts of violence, provocation, incitement and destruction.
“The events of the last several days have resulted in a sharp deterioration of the security situation,” said Tirumurti while also reiterated India’s strong support to the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-State solution.
“Immediate de-escalation is the need of the hour, so as to arrest any further slide towards the brink. We urge both sides to show extreme restraint, desist from actions that exacerbate tensions, and refrain from attempts to unilaterally change the existing status-quo, including in East Jerusalem and its neighbourhood,” he said.
India voiced support for the diplomatic efforts of the Quartet and other members of the international community, the countries in the region in particular, to “calm” the situation and put an end to the ongoing violence and seek to achieve durable peace.
“These incidents have once again underscored the need for immediate resumption of dialogue between Israel and Palestinian authorities. The absence of direct and meaningful negotiations between the parties is widening the trust deficit between the parties,” Tirumurti said, voicing concern that “this will only increase the chances for similar escalation in future.”
India believes that every effort should be made to create conducive conditions for resumption of talks between Israel and Palestine, he said.
During the two previously held Security Council closed meetings last week on the escalating tensions, India had expressed its deep concern over violence in Jerusalem, especially on Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramzan, and about the possible eviction process in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, an area which is part of an arrangement facilitated by the UN.
“We had also expressed our apprehension at the spread of violence to other parts of West Bank and Gaza,” he said.
Tirumurti said India condemns the indiscriminate rocket firings from Gaza targeting the civilian population in Israel. He added that the retaliatory strikes into Gaza have caused immense suffering and resulted in deaths, including of women and children.
The open debate comes after two closed meetings of the Security Council on the developments earlier this week. In both these meetings, India had expressed “deep concern” over violence in Jerusalem, especially on Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramzan, and about the possible eviction process in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, an area which is part of an arrangement facilitated by the UN.
Explaining the nuances of the statement and how India has endeavoured to strike the right balance, former Indian diplomat who has served in West Asia, Ambassador Anil Trigunayat said, “The statement was in my view very, well-crafted and took into account a balanced historical perspective of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the ongoing attacks and counter attacks by Hamas and Israeli forces.”
He further explained, “India condemned the violence and excessive use of force targeting civilians from both sides but in particular indiscriminate rockets from Gaza especially as an Indian citizen was killed. Hence India urged an immediate ceasefire and resumption of direct negotiations with the help of Quartet and regional powers.”
“India has also lost one of her nationals living in Israel in this rocket fire a caregiver in Ashkelon. We deeply mourn her demise along with all other civilians who have lost their lives in the current cycle of violence,” he said.
Soumya Santosh, 30, was killed in a rocket attack by Palestinian militants from Gaza, according to officials. Santosh, who hailed from Kerala’s Idukki district, worked as a caregiver attending to an old woman at a house in the southern Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon.