India asks Israel, Palestine to resume direct talks United Nations, Jan 20 (IANS) India has asked the international community to work closely with Israel and Palestine to encourage them to resume direct negotiations leading to a comprehensive peace process for a final resolution of the conflict. 'While this has been stated several times before, and in many eloquent ways, yet this central truth bears repetition: a just, fair, durable and credible solution to this vexed problem can only come from meaningful, sincere and result-oriented dialogue,' India's Permanent Representative to UN Hardeep Singh Puri said Wednesday. 'For this, it is important that the ongoing settlement activities by Israel cease forthwith,' he said while taking part in the open debate in the UN Security Council on 'The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question'. Asserting 'that the settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under international law', Puri said: 'We remain convinced that the lasting peace in the region will contribute to global stability and prosperity.' 'It is, therefore, critical for the international community to work closely with the parties with a view to encouraging them to resume direct negotiations,' he said. 'We are hopeful that the talks and negotiations would soon resume, leading to a comprehensive peace process for a final resolution of the conflict.' The situation in the Middle East continues to be difficult, Puri said, noting the much awaited resumption of talks in September between Israel and Palestine lasted only a few meetings. 'Since then, there has been considerable erosion of mutual confidence between the two parties, thereby undermining the peace process.' Puri said India has a long-standing tradition of solidarity with the Palestinian people, and noted it was expressed recently by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his message on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The prime minister reiterated India's unwavering support for the Palestinian people's struggle for a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital living within secure and recognised borders, side by side and at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Arab Peace Initiative, Quartet Road map and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, he said. 'Also, India has long been contributing to the capacity and institution building of the Palestinian people with its material and technical assistance programmes.'