India reacts cautiously on Trump's West Asia peace plan

India keeps mum on East Jerusalem, reacts cautiously on US President Donald Trump's West Asia peace plan

“We reiterate our view that the final status issues should be resolved through direct negotiations between the two Parties and be acceptable to both,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

India continued its three-year-long silence on the contentious issue of making East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine, even as it cautiously reacted to American President Donald Trump's West Asia peace proposal on Wednesday.

New Delhi stressed that Israel and Palestine should hold “direct negotiation” to reach “a two-state solution” for peaceful coexistence and suggested that they might include the US proposal in the agenda for talks.

A day after Trump unveiled his West Asia peace plan at the White House in Washington, India reiterated that it had been consistently supportive of the cause of Palestine and had also called called for a two-state solution to settle the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“We reiterate our view that the final status issues should be resolved through direct negotiations between the two Parties and be acceptable to both,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

Trump was joined by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he formally made public his peace-proposal. No leader of Palestine was present on the occasion. The plan envisages creation of a State of Palestinian along with recognition of Israeli sovereignty over its settlements in West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the peace plan, primarily because it sought to recognize Jerusalem as “undivided capital” of Israel. US President said that some areas of East Jerusalem could be part of the capital of the State of Palestine. It however failed to convince Palestinian President, who said that Jerusalem was “not for sale”.

New Delhi on Wednesday urged both Israel and Palestine to “engage with each other, including on the recent proposals put forward by the United States, and find an acceptable two-state solution for peaceful coexistence”.

India has since long been maintaining that Israel-Palestine conflict should be resolved through negotiation “resulting in sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Quartet Roadmap and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions”.

New Delhi's long-held view was last articulated in its statement presented at a committee of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on December 5, 2016.

India, however, stopped calling for East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine in 2017. Hosting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in New Delhi in May 2017, Modi did call for “a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, co-existing peacefully with Israel”, but avoided supporting the demand for East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine. He also carefully avoided referring to it during his visit to Israel in July 2017 – the first by a Prime Minister of India, although the two countries had established formal diplomatic relations in 1992. His message on the occasion of International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People on November 29 last year also had no reference to East Jerusalem to be capital of the future state of Pakistan.

Netanyahu had called Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. They had “exchanged views on global and regional matters of mutual interest” and “agreed to remain in touch, including in the context of the forthcoming initiatives and developments regarding the region,” according to a press-release issued by the MEA.