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India reiterates ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorism; says ‘large-scale civilian deaths’ in Gaza conflict unacceptable

United Nations, Jan 10 (IANS) Reiterating its zero tolerance for terrorism, India has said that the widespread deaths of civilians caught in the Hamas-Israel conflict is “clearly unacceptable” and called for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve it.

“There can be no justification for terrorism and hostage-taking,” India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

“India has a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism,” she said.

“Our thoughts are with those who have been taken as hostage and we demand their immediate and unconditional release,” she added.

Kamboj was speaking on Tuesday at a meeting of the UN General Assembly called under its resolution that requires permanent members, who use their vetoes in the Security Council to explain their action.

Unlike other delegates, she did not take the podium for her address and instead spoke from India’s seat in the chamber away from the spotlight.

Straddling a fine diplomatic line in the Hamas-Israel conflict, she did not name either of them while speaking of its toll, but emphasised opposition to terrorism of which Hamas has been accused.

The conflict “has led to the large-scale loss of civilian lives, especially women and children, and has resulted in an alarming humanitarian crisis,” she said.

“This is clearly unacceptable, and we have strongly condemned the death of civilians.”

“A peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue in diplomacy is the only way forward,” she added, while reaffirming India’s unwavering support for a two-state solution that envisages Palestine and Israel as independent nations side-by-side in peace.

Kamboj, who advocated for continued humanitarian assistance “for the affected population,” said that India has so far provided 70 tonne of humanitarian aid, including 16.5 tonne of medicine and medical supplies to the people of Palestine and $5 million, half of it in December to the UN Relief and Works Agency that works among the Palestinians.

The meeting followed up the US’ veto of an amendment proposed by Russia to a Security Council resolution on Gaza last month.

Although Russia’s amendment last month calling for a “suspension of hostilities” was vetoed, the resolution that instead called for steps “to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities” passed with 13 votes in the 15-member Security Council while the US and Russia abstained.

The US in lockstep with Israel has opposed demands for a ceasefire or even a temporary truce.

Several countries opposed the veto privilege of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

Kenya’s delegate said, “The veto stands as one of the world’s greatest anti-democratic symbols” and is a “frequent assertion of impunity in the face of international law”.

He added that the African nations are for abolishing the veto or extending it in a reformed Security Council to all permanent members added to it.

Mexico’s delegate advocated for an initiative taken by her country and France for permanent members to voluntarily limit the use of vetoes in situations of mass atrocities.

Speaking earlier on Tuesday, the representatives of Israel and Palestine have traded charges about the scale of atrocities committed, while the US defended its veto.

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