"We are encouraged by the resumed and ongoing direct talks between Israel and Palestine facilitated by the US. We hope that the direct talks will lead to concrete results within the envisaged time frame and a just and durable solution to the conflict will be arrived eventually," visiting Lok Sabha MP Vijay Inder Singla said at a UN General Assembly session on thursday. (Agencies)
"Until then it is imperative upon all of us member states to fully support (UN Relief and Works Agency) UNRWA, as the primary source of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian refugees," he said.
The United States helped revive the Israel-Palestine peace talks this July, bringing the two sides together for the first time since 2010.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, setting a nine-month schedule to reach an agreement.
In the backdrop of the continued fragile and unpredictable situation in the Middle East, Singla said India supports all efforts towards political resolution of the Palestinian question and joins the international call for Israel to lift the blockade to allow resumption of normal socio-economic activities in Gaza.
This would help in facilitating free movement of UNRWA staff, he said at session on Palestine refugees in the UNGA's Fourth committee, which deals with decolonization, Palestinian refugees and human rights, peacekeeping issues.
While there has been improvement in restrictions on West Bank and movement of humanitarian supplies and construction material into Gaza, restrictions due to the separation barrier, closures, and curfews in the Palestinian territories is causing severe hardships to the affected population.
Restrictions on freedom of movement of UNRWA staff members continue to hinder the agency's work and the armed conflict in Syria has also seriously impacted the situation of Palestinian refugees.
Singla reiterated India's steadfast support for the Palestinian cause and for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side and at peace with Israel.
He said that India would also continue to support Palestine’s bid for full and equal membership of the UN.
Singla pointed out that UNRWA continues to face severe challenges, the most critical being the crisis of chronic underfunding.
"Shortage of funds adversely impacts the quality and maintenance of the existing level of services. We support the efforts of UNRWA to enlarge the donor base. In spite of the current difficult global economic condition, it is important that the international community continues to show commitment to the cause of Palestine," he said.
Singla outlined India's commitment to support the development and nation-building efforts of Palestine.
During the last three years, India has contributed USD 10 million annually as untied budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority.
During the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to India in September 2012, the Indian government announced a USD 10 million contribution to Palestine’s budget to help address its financial requirements.
The first tranche of USD one million was released during the visit of India's Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed to Ramallah in July this year.
India has also enhanced its annual contribution to UNRWA to USD one million from the financial year 2009-10. This funding would be primarily used for provision of food and medicines to the displaced people in the refugee camps under UNRWA's various programmes.
"We are encouraged by the resumed and ongoing direct talks between Israel and Palestine facilitated by the US. We hope that the direct talks will lead to concrete results within the envisaged time frame and a just and durable solution to the conflict will be arrived eventually," visiting Lok Sabha MP Vijay Inder Singla said at a UN General Assembly session on thursday.