New Delhi, Dec 6 (IBNS) India on Thursday reiterated its support to Palestine at every available opportunity.
On the occasion of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People organized by Indian Council of World Affairs, Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed said: "Indians have always placed Palestinians close to their hearts."
"India reiterates its unwavering support to the Palestinian cause at every available opportunity and forum," he said.
Referring to the recent Gaza violence that left over 150 Palestinians dead and more than 1200 injured, the minister said: "We categorically condemn the violence in Gaza and I have no hesitation in saying that disproportionate use of force is completely unacceptable."
"India, jointly with Brazil and South Africa, has also expressed the strongest condemnation of violence between Israel and Palestine and urged the need to lift the blockage in Gaza which continues to worsen the already dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza," said Ahamed.
Full text of speech by Ahamed:
December 06, 2012
Your Excellency, Mr. Adli Hassan Shaban Sadeq, Ambassador of Palestine in India;
Your Excellency, Dr. Ahmed Salem Saleh Al-Wahishi, Chief Representative, League of Arab States Mission;
Ms. Lisa Grande, UN Resident Coordinator;
Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs Shri Rajiv K. Bhatia;
Excellencies, distinguished invitees;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I feel honoured to be here today amidst this august gathering to mark the important occasion of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. All of us present here, representing a wide cross-section of countries, in our own ways are here to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine in their struggle for their legitimate rights.
At this juncture, allow me to extend heartfelt congratulations to the people of Palestine and its leadership for obtaining the 'Non-Member Observer State' status in the UN General Assembly. India, which has always played a proactive role in garnering support for the Palestinian cause in multilateral fora, co-sponsored this resolution on enhancing Palestine's status in the UNGA. It is a decisive achievement for Palestine in the history of its long and arduous struggle to reach its final goal of an independent and viable Palestinian State. However, the journey doesn't end here. We will continue to support Palestine's bid for full and equal membership of the United Nations. India had also played an active role in supporting the efforts of the State of Palestine to secure full membership status at UNESCO.
India reiterates its unwavering support to the Palestinian cause at every available opportunity and forum. Hon'ble Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his message on the occasion of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, organized by the UN on 29 November 2012, reiterated India's strong and unwavering support to the Palestinian cause. It is a matter of great honour that our Prime Minister's message was given pride of place and was the first to be read out in the UNGA among the messages from Heads of Governments.
It would be a remiss if I do not mention the recent events in Gaza that led to death of more than 150 Palestinians including innocent children and women, with injuries to more than 1200 people. We categorically condemn the violence in Gaza and I have no hesitation in saying that disproportionate use of force is completely unacceptable. India, jointly with Brazil and South Africa, has also expressed the strongest condemnation of violence between Israel and Palestine and urged the need to lift the blockage in Gaza which continues to worsen the already dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza.
We have also chaired and proactively participated as member in the discussions on the violence in Gaza in the UN Security Council under India's presidency.
The ceasefire reached between Israel and Gaza is welcome and we hope that both the parties shall remain committed to the terms of the ceasefire.
Indians have always placed Palestinian close to their hearts. Even before Independence, India had demonstrated its solidarity with the Palestinian people and had looked forward to the emergence of an independent democratic state in Palestine in which the rights of all communities would be protected.
India was the first non-Arab State to recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1975 and in 1988 became one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine. India opened a Representative Office in Palestine in 1996 following the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority.
Since the opening of the Representative Office, India has also extended material assistance to the Palestinian National Authority and has been a partner in the socio-economic development of Palestine in its quest for a life of dignity and self reliance and a future full of promises. Our assistance has been for humanitarian relief, development projects, establishment of educational and training facilities, budgetary support etc. India has been involved with training a large number of Palestinian officials from economic, industrial and financial sectors and special courses for Palestinian diplomats have been conducted at our Foreign Service Institute.
I also fondly recall my visit to Ramallah on September 17, 2004 when I had an honor of meeting the undisputed leader of the Palestinian People Yasir Arafat. That was the time when he was under siege and was confined to his compound in Ramallah. During that visit I also took with me a consignment of medicine and 50 specially built vehicles. President Arafat was very overwhelmed while receiving me and was thankful for the Government of India to send me at a time when no one was with him. I spent one full day with him and also offered Friday prayers with him at Muqata led by Grand Imam of Al Aqsa Mosque. It was a very emotional visit for me which I can't forget to this day. Sadly President Arafat passed away after few months only. However our friendship with the Palestinian people has continued.
During the recent visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to India in September this year, we pledged an amount of US$ 10 million as budgetary support to Palestine, and signed three agreements for cooperation in the fields of information and communication technology, vocational training and construction of schools in Palestine. India also contributes US$ 1 million annually to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA in addition to Indian's generous support at various Donor conferences for the Palestinian people. Jointly with Brazil and South Africa as partners in IBSA, India is implementing developmental projects in Palestine.
I am happy to note that the Palestinian Embassy has started functioning from its new Building in Chanakyapuri, which was built as a gift of the government and people of India to the Palestinian people. The building was formally inaugurated by President Mahmoud Abbas and former External Affairs Minister Shri S.M. Krishna during President Abbas' visit to India on September 11, 2012.
We will continue to support the development and nation-building efforts of Palestine.
In line with our support for United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, India supports a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders with East Jerusalem as its Capital, side by side and at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Quartet Roadmap and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1397 & 1515.
India has supported the Arab Peace Plan, which calls for withdrawal of Israel to pre-1967 borders, along with recognition of Israel and the establishment of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.
India had welcomed the 'direct talks' between Israel and Palestine. However the continued stalemate in the situation and hardening of positions is a matter of concern. We are hopeful of resumption of 'direct talks' leading to final resolution of the conflict. However it should be noted that the settlement activities by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories are not serving the cause of peace. We have called for an end to these Israeli settlements activities and will continue to do so in light of recent announcement by Israel to expand these settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. We also urge for an early and significant easing of restrictions on the free movement of persons and goods within Palestine.
Let me take this opportunity to re-affirm India's consistent and unwavering support to the friendly people of Palestine and reiterate India's belief that a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region can be achieved through negotiations and dialogue so that a sovereign, independent, viable State of Palestine living side by side within secured borders, with the State of Israel, becomes a reality.
I thank the Indian Council for World Affairs for organizing this important event.