Statement by Turkey at the Security Council Meeting on “The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 23.04.2020
Mr. President,
The situation across the Middle East continues to be a source of grave concern.
While terrorism, conflicts and humanitarian crises have engulfed millions of innocent people in the region, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the conditions by disrupting the humanitarian aid flows, restricting peace operations and limiting diplomatic efforts.
Unfortunately, in this time of global crisis, Palestinian people in the occupied Palestine territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Gaza are among the most vulnerable.
Decades of Israeli occupation and blockade have severely damaged the Palestinian economy, its infrastructure and health system.
In Gaza, two million people have been living under extremely difficult conditions, in widespread poverty and with acute shortage of essential goods and services.
Palestinian Government has implemented several effective public health restrictions and developed a socio-economic response plan.
We welcome and support all these measures to deal with the spread of the virus and its implications.
Yet, as in the rest of the world, the public health restrictions have had serious effects on the economy of Palestine.
With the shut-down of the economy and the decrease in revenues, Palestinian economy would further contract.
It is regrettable that due to Israeli occupation, Palestine Government does not have access to the conventional monetary and fiscal tools to cope with the crisis.
Mr. President,
These are times that call for solidarity and cooperation.
There are, however, reports about obstruction of Palestinian efforts to contain the virus, including but not limited to destruction of a health clinic and seizure of disinfection equipment.
It is also very concerning that Israeli operations against civilians continue during the crisis, even within the context of enforced lockdown and evening curfew.
These actions by the Israeli authorities could amount to crimes against humanity and will have permanent implications on the efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
We are also appalled that even during this global crisis, Israel continues with its illegal settlement activities, destruction of Palestinian properties and eviction of Palestinian people from their homes.
There are also reports that settlers attempt to take advantage of the lockdown to take over Palestinian land.
We condemn all the steps that might inflict more hardship and suffering on the Palestinian people during this pandemic.
Mr. President,
The stability of Palestine is crucial for the stability of the region. The spread of the virus could lead to a wider social and political destabilization, with broader consequences.
The current crisis can also be an opportunity to restart the peace process for a just and lasting solution to the conflict in line with the UNSC Resolutions and the established parameters.
Therefore, we urge the Government of Israel to fulfill its responsibilities. It is time to stop the collective punishment of Palestinian people.
First of all, Israel must ensure that all Palestinians, including those held in prisons and detention centers, have access to the necessary humanitarian assistance and medical equipment needed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
The illegal blockade of Gaza must end.
Palestine Government must be provided with all the financial support it needs.
All illegal settlement and demolition activities must stop.
As the Occupying Power, Israel also has an obligation to ensure the safety and security of the Palestinian people and their property. Disproportionate use of force by the security forces and settler violence must come to an end.
We expect Israel to respect international law and principles of humanity.

Mr. President,
The international community also needs to step up its support to Palestinian people by providing bilateral humanitarian and financial assistance to Palestinians.
We need to support the UN COVID-19 Response Plan for the occupied Palestinian territory and ensure that UNRWA continues to have adequate resources.
We must also focus on the long-term socio-economic implications of the pandemic, as economic contraction, further financial instability and increasing unemployment will have negative repercussions on social cohesion.
In the face of the crisis, Turkey has increased its support to Palestine to expand the capacity of the health system, prevent the transmission of the virus, and mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic.
We are sending more than 15 tons of medical supplies to Palestine.
We are also going to provide 5 million USD budget assistance to Palestine.
As an emergency measure, we have agreed to the use of Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital in Gaza as a quarantine hospital.
Mr. President,
The latest developments remind us once again the urgency of revitalizing the peace process.
Unfortunately, the newly formed Government of Israel has already pledged to consider annexation of parts of the West Bank.
So far, violation of international law has not brought peace to the region. It is not going to be any different now.
Further unilateral steps would end the hopes for peace in Israel and Palestine.
A two state solution, with the establishment of an independent State of Palestine within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital is the only way for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.
This requires unity, courage and resilience, particularly on the part of the Security Council.