India welcomes rapprochement between Palestinian factions

United Nations, Jan 24 (IANS) India said it supports a negotiated solution to the Palestinian issue and welcomed the recent rapprochement between the Palestinian factions and hoped this would lead to the formation of a unity government.

Hardeep Singh Puri, India's Permanent Representative to the UN, also said the "intensification of settlement activities by Israel" in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was "threatening the very premise of a two-state solution".

Puri, speaking at an open debate on "The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question" Wednesday, urged Israel to end the settlement activity.

He said India supports a negotiated solution leading to 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," an official statement said.

He also said that "progress on the Lebanese and Syrian track remains critical for lasting peace in the region" and India remains hopeful that an environment conducive for direct talks can be achieved in the near future.

"India stands ready to play its part in our collective endeavour to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East," he said.

"There is an urgent need to support the Palestinian Authority to meet its budgetary shortfalls," he said.

Puri said the blockade of Gaza, which is in its sixth year, was affecting essential services, economic activities and infrastructure development.

"We hope both parties will continue to uphold the ceasefire agreement and implement its provisions in good faith," he added.

"This year, India has pledged an amount of $10 million as budgetary support to Palestine," he said.

Puri also said that India "remains seriously concerned at the deteriorating security situation and continuing violence in Syria".

"We strongly condemn all violence and violations of human rights irrespective of who their perpetrators are. We also condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist acts that have been and continue to be committed in Syria," he said.

Puri urged all the parties to stop violence and engage in an inclusive national dialogue in order to resolve the conflict through peaceful means, the statement said.

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