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Roving Periscope: India reiterates a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine at the UN

Roving Periscope: India reiterates a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine at the UN

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Supporting a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine at the United Nations amid the raging Gaza War, India on Wednesday expressed the hope that Palestine’s request for a full UN membership, blocked in March by the US, will be reconsidered, and endorsed.

The US vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council on a Palestinian bid to be granted full membership of the United Nations last month. The 15-nation Council had voted on a draft resolution that would have recommended to the 193-member UN General Assembly “that the State of Palestine be admitted to membership in the United Nations.”

The resolution got 12 votes in its favor, with Switzerland and the UK abstaining and the US casting its veto. To be adopted, the draft resolution required at least nine Council members voting in its favor, with no vetoes by any of its five Permanent Members – the US, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and China– the media reported on Thursday.

“While we have noted that Palestine’s application for membership at the United Nations was not approved by the Security Council because of the aforesaid veto, I would like to state here at the very outset that in keeping with India’s long-standing position, we hope that this would be reconsidered in due course and that Palestine’s endeavor to become a member of the United Nations will get endorsed,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said.

India was the first non-Arab State to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people way back in 1974. It was also one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine in 1988. New Delhi opened its Representative Office to the Palestine Authority in Gaza in 1996, which later was shifted to Ramallah in 2003.

Currently, Palestine is a “non-member observer state” at the UN, a status granted to it by the General Assembly in 2012. It allows Palestine to participate in proceedings of the world body but it cannot vote on resolutions. The only other non-member Observer State at the UN is the Holy See, representing the Vatican.

Addressing a General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, Ambassador Kamboj underlined that India’s leadership has repeatedly emphasized that only a two-state solution achieved through direct and meaningful negotiations between Israel and Palestine on final status issues will deliver an enduring peace.

“India is committed to supporting a two-state solution where the Palestinian people are able to live freely in an independent country within secure borders with due regard to the security needs of Israel,” she said.

She stressed that to arrive at a lasting solution, India would urge all parties to foster conditions conducive to resuming direct peace negotiations at the earliest.

On April 2, Palestine sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres requesting that its application for full UN membership be considered again. For a State to be granted full UN membership, its application must be approved both by the Security Council and the General Assembly, where a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting is required for the State to be admitted as a full member.
Kamboj noted that the latest conflict in Gaza has been ongoing for over six months and the humanitarian crisis that it has triggered has been increasing.

“There is also the potential for growing instability in the region and beyond,” she added.

Underlining India’s position on the conflict, Kamboj said the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has led to a large-scale loss of civilian lives, especially women and children, and a humanitarian crisis, which is simply unacceptable. India has strongly condemned the deaths of civilians in the conflict.

She said the terror attacks in Israel on October 7 were shocking and deserved “unequivocal condemnation.”

“There can be no justification for terrorism and hostage-taking. India has a long-standing and uncompromising position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. And we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

India stressed that humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza must be scaled up immediately to avert a further deterioration in the situation. “We urge all parties to come together in this endeavor,” Kamboj said, adding that India has provided humanitarian aid to the people of Palestine and that it will continue to do so.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), citing Gaza’s Ministry of Health data, said that from October 7, 2023, till now, at least 34,568 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and 77,765 Palestinians injured.

According to the Israeli military, 262 soldiers have been killed and 1,602 soldiers have been injured in Gaza since the beginning of the ground operation. In addition, over 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, including 33 children, have been killed in Israel, the vast majority on October 7, 2023, when Hamas attacked Israel. As of May 1, Israeli authorities estimate that 133 Israelis and foreign nationals remain captive in Gaza, including fatalities whose bodies are withheld, it said.


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