Statement by Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent...
Statement by Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent...
Statement by Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on 'the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian Question' on January 26, 2016
1. Thank you for convening of this quarterly open-debate on the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian Question. I also thank the Secretary General for his comprehensive briefing.
2. The situation in the Middle East region continues to remain fragile and unpredictable with protracted conflicts and unprecedented changes in several countries. The longest of them the Middle East Peace Process also continues to elude peace. This quarterly debate gives us an opportunity to take stock of developments in the region and reflect upon the efforts of this Council in fostering peace. We join others in urging the Council to step up its efforts and take the lead in resolving this problem.
3. Our position on the Middle East Peace Process has been consistent and clear. India supports a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Quartet Roadmap and relevant UNSC Resolutions. India has always played a proactive role in garnering support for the Palestinian cause in multilateral fora. We supported the recent vote in the General Assembly on raising the flags of non-member observer states.
4.Our continued commitment with the Palestinian cause and earnestness to develop stronger bilateral relations is demonstrated in the successive high level visits to Palestine in the recent past. Prime Minister Modi interacted with President Mahmoud Abbas at New York in September 2015. President of India visited Palestine on the first ever state visit from India in October 2015 and also became the first Head of State to stay in Ramallah. Indian External Affairs Minister visited Palestine this month and held discussions with the Palestinian leadership including with President Abbas. These visits and interactions reinforce and renew our political and diplomatic support to the State of Palestine in its endeavours to realize an independent and sovereign State of Palestine.
5. Our approach to Palestine has crystallized into a policy with three core dimensions namely i) solidarity with the Palestinian people; ii) support to the Palestinian cause; and iii) support to Palestine's nation building and capacity building efforts. India's empathy with the Palestinian cause and our friendship with the Palestinian people remain undiluted. This is an integral part of our foreign policy.
6.As part of our support to the nation-building efforts of Palestine we have been consistently extending technical and financial assistance to Palestine. President of India during his visit to Ramallah inaugurated the India-Palestine Center for Excellence in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Al Quds University and also handed over a cheque worth US$ 5 million as a budgetary support to the Palestinian authority. Our External Affairs Minister inaugurated a new Digital Learning and Innovation Centre at Al- Quds University. Government of India is also committed to build another Centre for Excellence in ICT and Innovation in Gaza city. We are working on the modalities for setting up a Techno Park in Ramallah. India has also announced setting up of the Palestinian Institute of Diplomacy. In order to support and strengthen the cultural and academic bond with Palestinian people, an India study chairs is being set up in Al Quds University. Further, to strengthen the academic linkages between India and Palestine, a programme of cooperation between the universities of the two countries has been announced.
7. India contributes US$ 1 million annually to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). India pledged and contributed US$ 4 million in response to the National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza. We are undertaking important bilateral development projects in health, education, skill development, vocational training as well as providing budgetary support to the Palestinian Government. We are also implementing development projects in Palestine, jointly with Brazil and South Africa within the framework of IBSA, and have pledged US$ 1 million for a new project to reconstruct the Atta Habib Medical Centre in Gaza.
8. If we trace the Peace Process in the Middle East we would witness phases of relative calm and periodic heightened clashes and tensions. We are concerned that since last attempts for serious direct talks broke in April 2014 year there has been a downward trend in the Peace Process despite efforts for serious negotiations between the parties which remained inconclusive. Instead we saw an unfortunate escalation in Gaza. Unilateral actions by the parties unfortunately are moving them further apart.
9. India remains firmly convinced that dialogue remains the only viable option that can effectively address the issue. The imperative need is for restraint, to avoid provocation and unilateral actions and to return to the peace process. We remain hopeful and urge both sides to resume the peace process soon, for a comprehensive, just and lasting resolution of the Palestinian issue.
10. India remains concerned about the political and security situation in Yemen. We have been urging all concerned parties in Yemen to amicably resolve their differences and we hope that the UN-mediation efforts would assist the people of Yemen in finding a consensus-based solution.
11. We express our deep concern with the activities of proscribed outfits, radicalized and extremist groups in the West Asia and Gulf region especially in northern parts of Iraq and Syria which are critically impacting on peace and stability in the region. Efforts must be taken by all parties and stakeholders in the region to curb these dangerous trends. We believe the consolidation of political processes and solutions while building durable state institutions will be the effective way of addressing such extremism and radicalism in the region.
12. Turning to Syria, we would like to express our continued concern at the ongoing violence in Syria and loss of human lives. India has consistently called for a comprehensive political resolution of the conflict, bringing all parties to the negotiating table. It has to be a Syrian-led process, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. We maintain that there can be no military solution to the conflict.
13.We are encouraged by the UN Security Council resolution 2254 adopted on 18 December 2015 laying out a roadmap for political solution of the Syrian conflict. We remain hopeful that the UN's mediation efforts will yield results. We urge all parties to demonstrate the requisite political will, exercise restraint, and commit to seeking common ground in accommodating their differences.
14.The humanitarian situation in Syria and neighbouring countries has to be addressed effectively. It is with this conviction that we contributed US $ 4 million as humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees. We will also contribute towards humanitarian assistance in the forthcoming meeting on Syria scheduled to be held in February 2016 in London.