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

Ertuğrul Apakan 23.04.2012
Mdm. President,

Finding a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a requirement for stability, security and a durable peace in the Middle East. The status-quo is not viable. At a period when the whole region is undergoing a structural reformation, this conflict cannot remain in a stand-still.

During the last three months, where the focus remained mainly on the developments in Syria, settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories continued unabatedly. Such activities obstruct the revitalization of the peace process and seriously endanger the vision of a two-state solution, thus destroying the basis for the prospect of peace. Israeli Authorities’ efforts to legitimize the settlements in the context of the Israeli laws, do not alter this fact. The Quartet also, in its last meeting on 11 April 2012, called not only for an end to settlement activities and settler violence, but also for the reunification of Gaza and West Bank. In any case, resort to violence by any party can no way be tolerated in overcoming existing disputes.

The situation of the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons also needs urgent attention. The keeping of the elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council under arrest remains to be a significant concern. Such policies of Israel raise further doubts regarding its sincerity towards the peace process.

Mdm. President,

We deplore the past month’s dangerous escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip due to Israel’s attacks. Israel’s disproportionate and indiscriminate retaliatory moves, causing civilian casualties and injuries, cannot be accepted. Let me also remind you of the grave situation of housing, health and other primary services in Gaza and thus reiterate our call for the lifting of the illegal embargo. The international community must ensure that there is accountability both for the blockade and Israel’s attack on the international humanitarian aid flotilla in high seas.

Under these circumstances, we hope that the letter, sent last week by President Abbas to Prime Minister Netanyahu could pave the way for a sincere progress in the Middle East Peace Process. We hope that Israel will seize this opportunity and contribute towards building a constructive atmosphere.

Concurrently, Turkey will continue to promote efforts towards achieving unity in Palestine. Palestinian national reconciliation is of critical importance in terms of ensuring comprehensive and sustainable peace and stability. For that reason, the reconciliation to be concluded by free, fair and transparent elections in Palestine should be supported without prejudice by all members of the international community.

Mdm. President,

Before concluding my words, I would also like to refer to the grave situation in Syria as yet another factor of instability in the region. We attribute utmost importance to the immediate, visible, verifiable and indisputable implementation of Resolutions 2042 and 2043 of the Security Council, including all aspects of the 6 point plan of the Joint Special Representative Mr. Kofi Annan, which has offered a promising window of opportunity. We hope that the Syrian Government takes immediately all necessary steps. We call for an immediate end to violence. In this vein, primary responsibility rests with the Syrian Government. Turkey, together with other members of the international community, will continue to follow closely the developments in Syria.

Mdm. President,

Turkey has, from the beginning, taken side with the democratic aspirations of the Peoples of the Middle East, in their struggle for a better life; to live in societies where human rights receive due respect; where rule of law prevails and the people take part in the shaping of their destiny.

It is our view that this same principle must apply to the aspirations of the Palestinians, which should not go unanswered any longer. The Palestinian people must, as soon as possible, be able to fully exercise their inalienable rights; in accordance with the numerous UN resolutions, Madrid principles, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative. Palestinians must attain their goal of an independent state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace. Turkey, welcomes and strongly supports the Palestinian application for full-fledged United Nations membership, submitted by President Mahmoud Abbas on 23 September 2011, and believes that it is high time for Palestine to take its rightful place in the international arena, among the community of nations.

Thank you.