Statement by Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the Security Council Open Debate on "Situation in the Middle East"

Ertuğrul Apakan 14.04.2010
Mr. President,

I wish to thank Under - Secretary General Pascoe for his briefing. We fully support the UN Secretary - General in his efforts. His recent visit to Israel and Palestine was an important one in terms of highlighting the current issues.

As Mr. Pascoe stated, the efforts to put the peace process back on track are still underway. The Quartet Statement of 19th March deserves our full attention and outlines what should be done in the period ahead.

We look forward to the actual start of the proximity talks and continue to support the US efforts towards this end. The talks should start as early as possible since the absence of a functioning peace process is leading to an increasingly precarious environment in the region.

The negotiations should lead to a comprehensive peace based on two states, agreed borders based on those of 1967, Jerusalem as the capital for both states and a just settlement for refugees. Relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative provide the required basis for such an end result.

We hope that this time peace could be given a chance along these basic lines.

The climate in the region will inevitably have a direct impact on the success of the talks. Trying to change the facts on the ground in an attempt to prejudice the outcome of the negotiations would yield no result but undermining trust.

Therefore, Israel must stop its illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories, fully and permanently, and refrain from any unilateral and provocative action particularly in East Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a deeply important issue not only for Israelis and Palestinians but also for Muslims, Jews and Christians throughout the world. Any attempt to change the fabric and status of Jerusalem as well as taking steps to perpetuate the occupation in defiance of the relevant Security Council resolutions, pose a serious threat to stability and peace.

The historical and universal heritage of Jerusalem which we are bound to protect and preserve represents, in itself, the value of unity, peace and harmony. Therefore, instead of pushing the issue of Jerusalem to the core of the Middle East conflict, it should be the inspiration of Jerusalem leading the way towards lasting settlement and cooperation.

The military escalation in the West Bank is also a cause for serious concern and puts the progress made by the Palestinian Authority on the state -building in jeopardy. At this stage, the focus should be on the empowerment of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians should be able to use more of their land. They should be able to enjoy their fundamental rights.

However, restrictions continue to put off Palestinian economic and social development.

Particularly, the new Israeli military order which would enable the occupying forces to detain, imprison and deport Palestinians in the West Bank cannot contribute to the Palestinian state-building and mutual trust, let alone lasting peace in the region.

We call on Israel to revise these policies which are in contradiction with the relevant Security Council decisions.

The disunity on the Palestinian side also continues to be a major concern. It does not only hinder the maintenance of a functional socio-political system in Palestine, but also impedes the resumption of the peace process. We will continue to urge the Palestinian factions to resolve their differences.

Mr. President,

Despite certain steps by the Israeli side, the situation in Gaza remains mostly unchanged. The siege continues with Palestinians suffering inside without proper housing, education, infrastructure, job opportunities and health service.

This situation is neither acceptable nor sustainable. The recent escalation along the borders of Gaza showed us, once again, that as long as the wounds of this humanitarian tragedy are left open, there can be no mutual confidence and sense of stability in the area.

The full implementation of resolution 1860 holds the key to security and stability in the region. Going back to normal lives in Gaza, starting reconstruction and regular economic activity would have a very positive impact on the overall climate in the region.

Mr. President,

We agree with the Mr. Secretary - General that there is no alternative to negotiations for a comprehensive and just settlement and no alternative to addressing all the core issues for a two-State solution.

At this critical stage, there is also no alternative but focusing on the political process, building trust, renouncing violence and pushing forward with determination and good will for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

Thank you.