India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) have backed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts at mediation that have led to the announcement of resumption of direct final status negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

The grouping is involved in the region by collectively sponsoring projects in Palestine such as the construction of a Multipurpose Sports Center in Ramallah and the creation of a Palestinian Youth Sports League.

In their periodical statement on West Asia, the IBSA was positive about the efforts being made to bring the two sides on the negotiating table and did not mention the construction of Israeli settlements unlike on previous occasions when it came down on Israel for fomenting violence.

“I think the fact that they take up the Palestinian issue regularly is a welcome step because most regional bodies nowadays tend to downplay the issue,” noted Strategic Analyst Qamar Agha.

The statement issued on Friday termed the announcement of talks “an encouraging development’’ that has the potential for reverting the deadlock and paralysis that have plagued the peace process in recent years. “We hope this renewed effort will lead to the full and overdue realisation of a two-state solution based on 1967 borders,’’ said the statement.

The IBSA appreciated Israel’s decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, “which is a gesture that contributes to the spirit of cooperation surrounding the negotiations’’ as also Mr. Kerry indicating that the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators are committed to reaching a comprehensive peace agreement within nine months.

“Such an agreement should culminate in the full realization of an independent Palestinian State. We call on the parties to adhere strictly to this timetable,’’ said IBSA while calling on the Security Council to exercise its functions under the UN Charter, with regard to the Palestinian Question.

But Mr. Agha was pessimistic about the talks because he felt the release of political prisoners and stoppage of all settlement construction activity should have been the preconditions.

Core issue

“They have to stop settlements and accept UN’s Resolution 242 which calls for withdrawal from all occupied territories. Jerusalem is also a core issue because Al Quds is one of the holiest places in Islam and that is why the Palestinian problem is a core issue in the Muslim world,” he reasoned.

The statement was signed by Foreign Ministers Salman Khurshid, Antonio Patriota (Brazil) and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (South Africa).

In its previous statement last year, IBSA had expressed its “strongest condemnation of the ongoing violence between Israel and Palestine and called for a stop to all construction activity”. The 2011 statement was more occupied with the Arab Spring and did not touch on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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