India called for an immediate de-escalation of the situation between Israel and Palestine at the first public United Nations Security Council meeting held since the current surge in hostilities between the two parties entered its seventh day, killing at least 149 people in Gaza and 10 in Israel, including many children.
The virtual public meeting was held on Sunday after diplomats reached a compromise following U.S. objections to a public meeting, Reuters reported.
“Immediate de-escalation is the need of the hour, so as to arrest any further slide towards the brink. We urge both sides to show extreme restraint, desist from actions that exacerbate tensions, and refrain from attempts to unilaterally change the existing status-quo, including in East Jerusalem and its neighbourhood,” India’s Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the U.N. , T.S. Tirumurti, told the Security Council on Sunday.
“The indiscriminate rocket firings from Gaza targeting the civilian population in Israel, which we condemn, and the retaliatory strikes into Gaza, have caused immense suffering and resulted in deaths,” Mr Tirumurti said, adding that India had lost one of its citizens, a caregiver in Ashkelon ( 30 year old Soumya Santosh from Kerala ).
The trust deficit between Israel and Palestinian authorities was increasing, as there were no direct negotiations between the two, the ambassador said.
“We believe that every effort should be made to create conducive conditions for resumption of talks between Israel and Palestine,” Mr Tirumurti said.
The U.N., Qatar and Egypt are trying to broker a ceasefire. Mr Tirumurti said India had already voiced its concern over the violence in Jerusalem at closed-door meetings of the 15-member council held earlier this week (neither of which resulted in a joint statement).
"In both these meetings, we had expressed our deep concern over the violence in Jerusalem, especially on Haram Al Sharif/ Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramadan [Ramzan] , and about the possible eviction process in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, an area which is part of an arrangement facilitated by the UN. We had also expressed our apprehension at the spread of violence to other parts of West Bank and Gaza,” he said.
Mr Tirumurti said India supported the efforts of the Quartet (U.N., U.S., EU and Russia) and others in the international community, and expressed India’s “strong” support to the “just Palestinian cause” and its “unwavering” support for the two-state solution.