General Assembly Security Council

Mr. President, thank you for convening this open-debate on the Middle East. 

2.    These quarterly meetings of the Security Council are a stark reminder that the situation in the Middle East remains fragile, and peace and reconciliation continue to elude us. Violence and terror continue unabated, leading to large scale suffering and exodus of refugees. The effects of these are being felt far and wide. 

3.    These quarterly deliberations are also a pointer to this inter-connectedness of peace and security across regions and the importance that the international community, therefore, attaches to the pursuit of peaceful and just resolution of these conflicts. 

4.    The international efforts have, however, proven largely insufficient and ineffective in addressing the multiple challenges to peace and security in the region. 

Mr. President,

5.    Despite this gloomy backdrop, as we commence a new year, we can discern at least some developments that can offer us hope, including in the context of the Middle East Peace Process, the recent Syrian truce and the formation of the unity government in Lebanon. 

Mr. President, 

6.       The lack of any significant forward movement on the Palestine issue, ever since the collapse of talks nearly three years ago, continues to cause concern. The last one and half year has seen a further deterioration of the security situation in Palestine. 

7.    Only a negotiated two-State solution can bring sustainable peace and lasting security. Therefore, the imperative need is of restraint and moderation on all sides. We stress that it is the collective responsibility of the two sides to ensure that they move closer to a solution.

8.    We welcome the latest effort by the international community to promote peace through the recently concluded Conference in Paris in which more than 70 countries, including India, participated. 

9.    At the same time, India continues to invest in its development efforts, including through capacity building and skill development to empower Palestinian youth with opportunities to improve their lives. 

Mr. President, 

10.    The truce in Syria, which came into effect on 30th December, has been a much needed positive development. We welcome all efforts to end violence in Syria and to jumpstart the political process, and in this context welcome the UN Security Council Resolution 2336 adopted two weeks ago. 

11.    India's Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, during his recent visit to Syria, expressed the hope that 'the age of destruction should give way to reconstruction in Syria' and that the solution to the crisis in Syria should be through a comprehensive political process that achieves and accommodates the aspirations of the Syrian people. 

12.    We look forward to the outcome of the direct talks scheduled for later this month in Astana. It is encouraging that the process is committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and is led and owned by Syria. Meaningful involvement of the UN is also essential in the process. 

Mr. President, 

13.    In Lebanon, the recent election of President Michel Aoun and the subsequent formation of a national unity Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Saad Hariri have been further positive developments. The President of India, in his congratulatory message, has expressed our hope that the new Presidency will usher an era of political stability and progress in Lebanon. 

14.    We hope that these developments will also be helpful from the perspective of regional stability. Lebanon's example of resolving complex sectarian issues with institutional means through political processes has valuable lessons for other similar situations in the region.  

Mr. President,

15.    Whether it is 'salam' or 'shalom', the deep seated yearning for peace across peoples is only too evident. We hope that 2017 will bring about a surge in 'diplomacy for peace', as has been called for by the new Secretary General. Pragmatism and compromise are essential to move forward in the larger interest. History has shown that only peaceful co-existence is sustainable over long term. 

Thank You, Mr. President.