Reiterating its traditional solidarity with Palestine, India on Wednesday opposed an expansion of Israeli settlements and hoped for an early resumption of dialogue to resolve the conflict in West Asia, home to 4.5 million Indians.
“Palestine has always occupied a special place in the hearts of my countrymen,” Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said at a function here to mark the ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People’ that is observed Nov 29.
“India’ s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its approach to the Palestinian question were guided by that apostle of peace, Mahatma Gandhi, and the struggle that he inspired for our independence,” he said at the Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA).
Backing a just and comprehensive solution wherein an independent Palestine state coexists in peace with the state of Israel, Mr. Tharoor said India supported a negotiated solution to the West Asian conflict in line with the UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.
“India supports a negotiated solution to the West Asian conflict, which, it is convinced, is essentially political in nature and cannot be resolved by force,” he stressed.
“As a responsible member of the international community and as a country with long-established ties with West Asia, India also desires to see a resolution to tensions in the region through dialogue,” Mr. Tharoor said.
In a veiled criticism of Israel, Mr. Tharoor said: “Continued expansion of settlements is not helpful to the resumption of the peace process. We hope to see an early resumption of negotiations.”
“We are concerned and welcome efforts to invigorate the peace process,” he said.
Mr. Tharoor made it clear that although India does not play “a role as such in the peace process as we have not been requested to do so”, New Delhi has vital stakes in the process and in the West Asian region.
“India is closely monitoring the developments in the region which is also home to more than 4.5 million Indians and as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said in 1958 in a speech in the Lok Sabha, our approach is not inimical to any country there,” he said.