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India urges for peace in Gaza

Posted on Nov 21, 06:22PM | IBNS

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday said India urges for immediate restoration of peace in violence-hit Gaza.

The Palestinian side has marked a protest with the Ministry of External Affairs saying that the response by the Indian side is very weak.

Condemning the attack and the killing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Khurshid told reporters here: "We did say very categorically that disproportionate use of force is unacceptable. This is a very sad and tragic escalation of violence that has caused loss of some innocent lives, particularly of women and children. We consider that completely unacceptable."

"We urge that peace must be restored immediately and whatever efforts are being made for peace being restored and de-escalation of violence takes place. Our effort is that we support categorically. And we expect and hope that that is what will happen."

Khurshid said India will keep supporting the Palestinian cause.

"We also want to make it very clear that our support for the Palestinian cause remains undiluted. We would reconfirm that support. We believe that Palestine deserves an independent sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital. We are confirming that position.

"But at the same time I think what is important right now is that de-escalation take place, peace return, and that the disproportionate use of force that is being inflicted is something that is completely and totally unacceptable."

Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed echoed Khurshid and said the violence has to be stopped immediately as early as possible.

"As far as Gaza violence is concerned, we have already expressed our anxiety, our concern everything. The violence has to be stopped immediately as early as possible. We also added that disproportionate use of force by Israel which resulted in the death of innocent people including women and children is not only unacceptable, it is in a way contemptuous also," said Ahamed.

"At the very same time we want the peace to prevail over there, and aspirations of Palestinian people to justice, freedom and a state of their own with demarcated boundary and also a sovereign state with East Jerusalem as the capital is to be realized."

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday called for an immediate ceasefire by "all sides" involved in the violence in Gaza, saying in Cairo that peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians could not be achieved through more bloodshed.

The UN chief echoed previous statements in saying that rocket fire from Gaza into Israel was "unacceptable," while also noting that an Israeli ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave would mark a "dangerous escalation" that must be avoided.

Ban delivered his comments at a pair of news conferences in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, following separate meetings there with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, and the Egyptian Prime Minister, Hisham Mohamed Qandil.

He spoke as media reports, citing Egyptian and Palestinian officials, said a ceasefire in the conflict was "imminent," and that Israel had put its plans for a land invasion on hold, though it had made no official comment.

Ban is currently in Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders.

"My message is clear: all sides must stop fire," Ban said during his press conference with Qandil. "Further escalating the situation will only result in more tragedy, and puts the entire region at risk. That is why a ground operation must be avoided. That is why it is urgent to contain the present crisis."

In Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, added her concerns about Palestinian and Israeli civilians caught up in the ongoing crisis, which has seen continued rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes on targets in the territory.

"She is dismayed by the marked surge in the number of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, killed and injured over the past 48 hours as a result of Israeli military action," said a spokesperson for Pillay, according to a press release from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right (OHCHR).

"According to information gathered by OHCHR monitors on the ground, the civilian death toll has more than doubled during this period," the spokesperson added, noting that available information on Tuesday morning showed that at least 57 civilians, including 18 children, had been killed, and hundreds injured since Israel launched its military operation on Nov 14.

At his joint press encounter with Elaraby, the UN chief said he and his Arab League counterpart shared a "deep concern" about the "appalling rising cost in human lives."

"A new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure," Ban told reporters.

"Nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution necessary to end the occupation and such violence permanently," he added, citing an end goal that would see Israel and an independent Palestinian exist peacefully side by side.

Ban said that when he meets with Israeli leaders, he will "firmly reiterate that Israel must respect its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law."

While he also highlighted that Israel had "legitimate security concerns that must be respected in accordance with international law," he added that a "ground invasion would be a dangerous escalation."

Ban is also scheduled to travel to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He said the Palestinian leader's efforts at finding a "long-overdue two-state solution" were now "more crucial than ever."

Gaza is run by the Palestinian group Hamas, which seized control of the territory a year after winning elections there in 2007.

"I am deeply worried that efforts to facilitate renewed negotiations to achieve a two-state solution have failed to produce a breakthrough," the Secretary-General said about the stalled Middle East peace process in his news conference with Qandil. "Yet, the present crisis proves again that the status quo is unsustainable and that a negotiated two-state solution ending a prolonged occupation is more urgent than ever."

In addition, Ban recalled travelling to the region under "similar circumstances" in early 2009, after Israeli forces entered Gaza amid rocket attacks from the enclave into Israel. "It is extremely painful for me to be back for the same reason, for the same situation, and to see that the parties are no closer to ending their hostilities," he said.