India concerned over escalation in Israel-Palestine violence

Jerusalem, Oct 14 (IANS) Amid global concerns over recent escalation in conflict in Israel and Palestine, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said India denounces all forms of violence, calling for any dispute to be resolved peacefully.

“We are disturbed at the recent violence. India condemns all forms of violence,” the president said during his meetings with the Israeli leadership here.

“We have always sought a peaceful resolution of disputes,” he added, soon after he was accorded a ceremonial welcome here on Wednesday morning.

The remarks come against the backdrop of both Israel and Palestine blaming the other for incidents of violence, which is claiming lives on both sides.

The comments assume greater significance as the president arrived here after visiting Palestine on Tuesday evening, where the leaders wanted New Delhi to strongly take up the issue with the Israelis.

In fact, Mukherjee — during his various engagements in Palestine — had assured India’s full support for the Palestinian cause, including a separate statehood for its people with East Jerusalem as the capital.

The Indian president was expected to take up the issue again during his meetings with his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among others, during his stay here till Thursday.

“I will seek the assessment of the Israeli leadership about recent developments in the region which have caused concern all over the world and have direct implications for India,” Mukherjee said, ahead of his address at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who spoke after Mukherjee’s speech, said his country was an island of stability in an unstable region but lamented that there were some radicals who wanted to destroy his people.

“Look at the Palestinians. They are misled by radical groups. These inciters are telling them we are going to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque. We respect all religions and religious places,” the Israeli premier said, referring to the cause for the recent escalation in violence.

Some violent confrontations have been taking in the past month with clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police. Palestinians have been protesting against Israel allowing Jewish groups to enter Al Aqsa compound on Jewish holidays.

Netanyahu said he will make sure that no one succeeds in destroying his people.

He also referred to the Mumbai terror attack of 2008, where the Jewish community was also targeted, and said such acts aimed at innocent people had no justification.

“Both our counties are attacked by radical terrorist groups. We are grappling with several challenges,” he said. “We must act together against terror groups.”

In his address, President Mukherjee avoided any mention of the conflict and dwelt more on the growing ties between the two countries.

India and Israel, he said, had much to gain by cooperating in areas like agriculture, defence, education, research, science and cyber security.

“Israeli technological advances can enhance India’s industrial production. Collaboration can create more jobs both in India and Israel,” he said, and particularly praised his host country for its technological advances and performance in agriculture.

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