India well-placed to play role to defuse crisis: Palestine envoy

New Delhi: India’s solidarity with the Palestinian cause dates back to Mahatma Gandhi’s time and its rising global stature and influence over all key players in West Asia make it well-placed to play a crucial role in defusing the crisis arising out of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Palestine Ambassador Adnan Abu Alhaija said on Tuesday.

In an interview to PTI, Alhaija particularly noted that India is a “friend” for both Israel and Palestine and it is “qualified” to work towards bringing down the tensions and contribute towards a solution to the Palestine issue.

The multi-pronged attacks against Israel by Hamas militants from Gaza since Saturday and the subsequent Israeli retaliation have left over 1,600 people dead in the last four days, triggering mounting global concerns and confabulations among key players.

Alhaija said India can get in touch with the European countries, the US, countries in West Asia and build “pressure” on the Israelis to work towards peace, which, he said, is refusing so far.
“India knows what is the Palestinian cause from the beginning; since the time of Mahatma Gandhi. So, they are qualified to play that role, especially as India is a friend of both (Palestine and Israel),” he said.
The ambassador noted that India has been supportive of the Palestinian cause.
“India is a very important country. I think, (India) can lead in this matter….India can play a good role,” he said.
To a question on whether he was pitching for India playing the role of a mediator, he responded :”(I) hope so.”¬†Asked if he had conveyed this to the people concerned in the Indian government or to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Alhaija said he asked for it around two years ago.
Describing the attacks by Hamas militants as totally unprovoked and unacceptable, Israel has already announced that it will deal with the challenge and punish the perpetrators.
Over the years, India has been maintaining that its position on the Palestine question has been clear and consistent and that it is committed to supporting all efforts to resume direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to achieve a two-state solution.
On the attacks against Israel by Hamas, the ambassador said what it has done is a “reaction” to what Israel has been doing to the Palestinian people for a “long, long time”.
Asked if he was not condemning the attacks by Hamas that killed innocent civilians, the envoy said: “I condemn the killing of the civilian people — whether they are Palestinians or Israelis.”¬†“Gaza is an open prison for 2.2 million people. They can’t move, they can’t go outside for medical treatment unless someone from Israel allows them to come to the West Bank,” he said.
The ambassador described the situation in the conflict zone as “very bad”.
“The situation is very bad. For years we were warning the world of what’s going on (the actions of Israelis) every day without any accountability. We were always calling for accountability. The failure of accountability leads to what is going on now,” he said.
“Now, the situation is very bad on both sides,” he said.
Calling for a permanent solution to the Palestinian issue, Alhaija said the current cycle of hostilities may end after some time, but it may recur in absence of the resolution of the long-pending issue.
“This war may end. But if there is no solution, if there is no peace process to the Palestinian cause, it (the hostilities) will come again,” he said.
“The Palestinian people, like any people in the world, should get their rights. They have the right to live like any other people. We can’t live under the pressure of the occupation,” he said.
The ambassador said Palestine is looking for peace.
“We are looking for peace. We want to live like any other people in the world. We want our children to play freely in their homes and homeland,” he noted.
The Palestinian ambassador also held that the US-led initiative of Abraham Accords could not bring peace to West Asia.
The Abraham Accords were aimed at normalising Israel’s relations with a number of Arab countries.
The envoy said initiatives like Abraham Accords will not pay any dividend if the main issue is not resolved.
Alhaija also trashed Israel’s allegations that Iran has been providing support to Hamas.
Israeli envoy to India Naor Gilon on Sunday alleged that Iran has a hand in the attacks and suggested that the country supplied weapons to Hamas.