India calls on Israel, Palestine to resume peace process

United Nations, Oct 22: India has called upon Israelis and Palestinians to resume the peace process as "dialogue remains the only viable option" to address the issues confronting the region.

In a brief statement at the UN Security Council Tuesday, India's Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji said, "We remain hopeful that the current ceasefire will be sustainable and both sides will resume the peace process soon, for a comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue."

He added, "We hope that both sides will demonstrate the necessary political will to return to the negotiating table and resume dialogue."

India's measured statement did not assign blame for the recent confrontation that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said left "mile after mile of wholesale destruction" in Gaza.

It was in keeping with the tone set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in July when it refused to condemn Israel in parliament for its actions in the Gaza as demanded by the Congress and some other parties.

Mukerji, however, reiterated India's support for a "sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side and at peace with Israel" resulting from a negotiated settlement.

"India's deep association with, and continuing commitment to Palestine is rooted in our modern history that goes back to our struggle for independence," he explained.

"Apart from strong political support to the Palestinian cause at international, regional and bilateral levels, India has been contributing economic and developmental assistance to the Palestinian people," he said mentioning India's pledge this month of 4 million dollars for Palestine reconstruction.

Earlier, Ban told the Security Council, "Nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed in Gaza. I saw mile after mile of wholesale destruction."

UN reported over 100,000 residents of Gaza remain homeless with over 50,000 still sheltering in UN run school buildings.

He said he wanted an investigation into hits on UN facilities that resulted in many innocent people being killed. An independent Board of Inquiry has been set up to look into the most serious cases, including those where weapons were found in UN facilities.

He acknowledged that Israelis also suffered during the conflict and recounted visiting a kibbutz where a four-year-old was killed by a Hamas rocket.

"I fully understand the security threat to Israel from rockets above and tunnels below," he said. "At the same time, the scale of the destruction in Gaza has left deep questions about proportionality."

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