STATEMENT BY THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY AT THE UNSC OPEN DEBATE ON “THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION”
Güven Begeç 12.07.2016
As we approach the 50th year of the occupation of Palestinian territories, prospects for lasting peace still remain grim. Revitalization of the Peace Process is not only necessary to grant a dignified life to the Palestinian people, but it is also a fundamental requirement to achieve stability in the region.
We are very concerned about the deteriorating situation on the ground. The expansion of illegal settlements, as well as land confiscations, displacement of native communities, denying the Palestinians’ right to use natural resources, and prevailing culture of impunity erode the viability of two-state solution.
The total area allocated to settlements has doubled since the Oslo Agreements as part of Israel’s policy to keep East Jerusalem isolated from the West Bank and Gaza. Just at the beginning of July, the Israeli Government advanced new plans for 800 additional housing units in illegal settlements. In addition, 10% of the West Bank is cut off from the rest by the separation wall. The current situation is neither acceptable nor sustainable. The Israeli Government’s practices in contravention of international law must stop.
Furthermore, preservation of the status and sanctity of Al-Haram Al-Sharif is essential for the stability and a future in harmony.
The historical injustice against the Palestinian people is fuelling resentment, alienation and radicalism in the region and beyond. The only way out of this impasse is to convince the Palestinians that their future will be better than today. This can only be achieved if the Palestinians sit at the negotiation table as the State of Palestine with equal standing with Israel. In this regard, the recognition of the State of Palestine by more than current 137 countries and its full integration to the international fora would raise hopes for the possibility of a two state solution on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative.
In addition, the initiatives such as the Paris Ministerial Conference which we also took part represent important opportunities at a time when revival of the peace process has become an urgent necessity.
Last but not least, to reach a lasting peace, it is also crucial for the Palestinians to voice their legitimate demands in unity. Turkey will continue its efforts for Palestinian reconciliation.
Empowering the Palestinian people and improving their living conditions through development assistance and investments is more urgent than ever. With this understanding, Turkey’s 200 Million USD pledge for the period of 2014-2017 is channeled into various projects such as the construction of an industrial zone in Jenin in West Bank, a hospital in Tubas and a girls’ dormitory for Al-Quds University.
The Agreement to normalize our bilateral relations with Israel was concluded on 26 June in Rome in accordance with the parameters put forward following the Mavi Marmara incident. This will be instrumental in further increasing our efforts to alleviate the humanitarian situation in the occupied territories, particularly in Gaza.
As a follow up to that, the first shipment of our humanitarian aid has reached Gaza on July 4th through Ashdod Port. In addition, Turkey-Palestine Friendship Hospital with 200 bed capacity will be ready to provide services following the installation of the medical equipment. The construction project for 320 housing units in Gaza will also be finalized soon.
The establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital continues to be the only viable solution. Turkey’s commitment to support the Palestinian people to this end will never cease.
The ongoing grave situation in Syria, in particular the devastating humanitarian conditions continue to unravel the very principles the UN Charter.
Turkey continues to shoulder a big part of the burden of the ongoing devastation. Humanitarian and security repercussions of the crisis constitute direct national security threat to us. The chaos in the North of Syria has played into the hands of terrorists, targeting also our citizens.
We have a common interest to bring peace and stability to Syria through a genuine political transition. However, no substantial progress has been made on the following three fronts upon where the efforts of the international community are concentrated.
The Cessation of Hostilities, which is systematically violated by the regime and its supporters has actually ceased to exist. Talks on having a ceasefire in Aleppo go hand in hand with the regime’s attempts to put the city under siege. This is what “ceasefire” means for the regime.
The humanitarian situation is no different. The suffering of the Syrian people continues unabated. Provision of basic needs is still interrupted. Its timing, content and geographical scope is almost completely left to the mercy of the regime. The regime continues to use barrel bombs and attack civilians and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, mosques, markets, IDP camps. The Council must ensure the implementation of all the measures envisaged by its own Resolutions.
If this picture on the ground is here to stay, there would be no prospect for a successful outcome in the next round of talks in Geneva. The opposition, represented by the High Negotiations Committee cannot be expected to negotiate under fire. In addition, attempts to dilute and weaken the opposition, will only harm the process.
Without further due, the regime should be pressured to talk about the political transition with concrete timelines, new constitution and elections. A transitional governing body with full executive powers should be established.
After 6 years of brutality and crime, the Syrian people cannot be expected to settle for anything different.