UNITED NATIONS: India on Tuesday said that normalisation of relations between Israel and some Arab states is an important development that has the potential to promote regional cooperation for peace and security and can provide the necessary momentum for resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti made the comments at the Security Council open debate on ‘The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.'
"The normalisation of relations between Israel and some member states of the League of Arab states is also an important development, which has the potential to promote regional cooperation for peace, security and prosperity. Further, this can provide the necessary momentum for resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine,” he said.
Former US President Donald Trump had in September last year hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for the signing of the historic Abraham Accord, the first Arab-Israeli peace deal in 26 years.
Until then, the only Arab nations to recognise Israel were Jordan and Egypt.
In October last year, Israel and Sudan agreed to take steps to normalise relations in a diplomatic coup announced by Trump days before the 2020 US elections.
In December, Morocco agreed to resume diplomatic relations with Israel under a deal brokered by the US.
Tirumurti said India has always called for a just and comprehensive solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and has welcomed all peaceful efforts to achieve the two-State solution, through direct negotiations between the two parties.
In this context, India reiterated its support for Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas' call to hold an international peace conference with the participation of all relevant parties to achieve the vision of a sovereign and independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel.
He emphasised that India has committed itself and contributed to the efforts towards bringing lasting peace and stability in the region through deployment of Indian personnel as part of UN peacekeeping forces, including in United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, through substantial and timely humanitarian assistance, and through development cooperation and capacity building.
“India proposes to supply vaccines to the region to help the countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
On the broader regional developments, India welcomed the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration, which has ushered in rapprochement and reconciliation among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. New Delhi acknowledges the key role of a unified GCC in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region, Tirumurti said.
Terming the commencement of talks between Israel and Lebanon last year as a significant development, Tirumurti said India looks forward to the swift formation of the Government in Lebanon that can offer political stability and also tackle the grave socio-economic challenges being faced by the people of Lebanon. “India will continue to stand by Lebanon during its time of need,” he said.
India welcomed the announcement of convening legislative, presidential and national council elections later this year in Palestine and urged all parties to take necessary further steps to ensure that these elections are held smoothly, fulfilling the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people.
Noting that it is heartening to see positive developments with regard to the Israel-Palestine issue, Tirumurti said India acknowledges and appreciates the efforts, inter alia, of Egypt in the process of rapprochement between the Palestinian parties, thereby bringing them together to end the internal divide.
“The resumption of civil and security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has also begun to alleviate the situation on the ground in Palestinian territories,” he said.
Tirumurti also voiced support for the efforts of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland to resume the peace process, including through revitalising the Quartet, and help mediate the peace negotiations.
“We also take note of the joint efforts by Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany aimed at strengthening the collective commitment on the part of the international community to facilitate the peace process,” he said.
Highlighting India's engagement with Palestine, Tirumurti said New Delhi has been consistently supporting Palestinian nation-building efforts through human resource development and institutional building.
India is currently undertaking several projects in many sectors, including health, education and, technology of around $72 million. India has also supplied critical life saving drugs and medical equipment to Palestine as assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
As an incoming member of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Advisory Committee, India underscored its commitment to continue strengthening its contribution to the Agency. New Delhi has made a multi-year enhanced annual financial contribution of five million dollars to support UNRWA's work in providing humanitarian assistance and essential services, he said.