India has said it has vital stakes in peace and prosperity in the Middle East and through the newly-formed I2U2 grouping it is confident of making significant contributions to energy, food security and economic growth in the region and South Asia.
Four-nation grouping I2U2 comprises India, Israel, the UAE and the US. “I” stands for India and Israel and “U” for the US and UAE.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the first virtual summit of the coalition on July 14 and said the grouping would make an important contribution in areas of energy security, food security and economic growth.
With US President Joe Biden, Israeli Premier Yair Lapid and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan listening, Modi said the grouping has established a positive agenda and its framework is a good model for practical cooperation in the face of increasing global uncertainties.
“India has vital stakes in peace and prosperity in the Middle East. During a recent virtual I2U2 summit, the leaders of India, Israel, the UAE and the US agreed to increase joint investment in six key areas of water, energy, transport, space, health and food security,” Chargé d’affaires in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Ambassador R Ravindra said at the UNSC open debate on the ‘Question of Palestine’ on Tuesday.
“We are confident that with I2U2, we will make significant contributions to energy security, food security and economic growth in the Middle East and South Asia,” he said.
After the first virtual meeting of I2U2 on July 14, a joint statement said this “unique grouping of countries aims to harness the vibrancy of our societies and entrepreneurial spirit to tackle some of the greatest challenges confronting our world, with a particular focus on joint investments and new initiatives in water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security”.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at the Security Council meeting that “the I2U2 Virtual Summit of India, Israel, the UAE, and the United States the President showed the potential of closer cooperation between Israel and other countries in and outside the region.”
Ravindra, however, expressed concern over the developments in Israel and Palestine, in particular, the continued violent attacks and the killing of civilians and the acts of destruction and provocation.
He said India has consistently advocated against all such acts of violence and reiterated New Delhi’s call for its complete cessation.
He stressed that the absence of a political settlement between Israel and Palestine did not augur well for long-term regional peace and stability.
“In addition to the stated political support for a two-state solution, the international community must expend energies and political capital to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process,” he said.
Ravindra said India believes that the peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict would bring lasting peace and stability to the region.
He reiterated the need for an early resumption of the political course by launching credible direct negotiations on all final status issues.
“India has consistently called for direct peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, which, we believe, is the best path towards achieving the goal of a two-state solution,” he said.
He said that these negotiations must be based on the internationally agreed framework, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for statehood and Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
Ravindra said all unilateral measures that unduly alter the status quo on the ground and undercut the viability of the two-state solution must be eschewed.
“The international community and this Council must send a strong signal against any step preventing the possibility of durable peace between Israel and Palestine,” he said.
India urged the parties to focus on addressing the urgent security and economic challenges, including the precarious financial situation of the Palestinian Authority, and chart a clear path for discussing key political issues.
“We recognise the international community’s recent confidence-building measures for the Palestinians and the important steps Israel has taken to ease Palestine’s economic situation,” he said.
“Such initiatives are in the interest of both parties and help maintain stability and discourage the possible recurrence of terror and violence. Moreover, these initiatives should create a conducive environment leading to political dialogue,” he said.
Intra-Palestinian unity is critical for the well-being of the Palestinian people, he said and expressed hope that efforts to achieve reconciliation between all Palestinian parties will bear fruit soon and help in overcoming the current stalemate, leading to legislative and Presidential elections in Palestine.
“Given our long-standing and firm commitment to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine, within secure, recognised and mutually agreed borders, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, India will remain fully supportive of all efforts to restart the peace process,” he said.