Statement by H.E. Mr. Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, at the Open Debate of the Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian Question

Y. Halit Çevik 22.07.2014
Mr. President,

At the outset, allow me to express our sincere appreciation of the Rwandan Presidency for successfully leading the Council’s work in the face of such intense developments in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Mr. President,

For the recent weeks, we have been witnessing the deep human and humanitarian suffering caused by Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip with the deepest concern. Since July 8, more than 600 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 4.000 have been wounded, as a result of attacks by air, sea and land. Most of them are civilians. Homes and key infrastructure have been destroyed, hospitals have been targeted and over 100 thousand people have been displaced. The world’s conscience was shaken, among others, by the images of the killing of four children aged 9 to 12 on a Gaza beach, and later by the attack on Shejaiyeh which left nearly 80 people dead in a matter of hours. Turkey strongly condemns the inhumane attacks against the Gazans, which are unacceptable by any standard. It is more than alarming. It should be condemned by whole international community. As of today, Turkey has declared 3 days of national mourning in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The Israeli operation in the Palestinian territory is in violation of international law. In fact, it constitutes a collective punishment of the Palestinian people who are striving to sustain their lives under occupation. We once again demand from Israel to immediately halt its operations in Gaza. All violence must end. The parties should urgently engage in negotiations towards a lasting ceasefire. Turkish Authorities are constantly in contact with Palestinian and regional leaders and other relevant stakeholders, discussing practical solutions towards this end. We call once again for the immediate lifting of the embargo on Gaza in accordance with Resolution 1860 and the cease-fire commitments of November 2012. We also call upon Israel to release the Palestinians who have been freed in the Shalit swap but rearrested during the recent operations.

The world should give the strongest response to the human tragedy in Gaza unfolding before its eyes. The international community, particularly the Security Council should assume its responsibility to take the necessary measures to stop Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people without delay, and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to the region.

Mr. President,

As the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to worsen by each passing hour, it becomes increasingly difficult to provide the sufficient responses to those in urgent need. Displacement remains a major concern, while humanitarian supplies are declining. We receive reports on a daily basis on the difficulties faced by UNRWA and other humanitarian agencies on the ground.

Alleviating these gross humanitarian needs should be our immediate concern. Turkey has already accelerated its humanitarian aid to Gaza. Our humanitarian and development agencies immediately took action to help the Palestinian people. The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) has distributed food and medical aid over 1 million dollars and has also financed four generators to the Jabaliyah municipality. The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) has also contributed 1.5 million US Dollars to the WHO’s Palestine Office, as well as flour aid to Gaza via UNRWA. In addition, the Turkish Red Crescent has stepped up its efforts to deliver food aid to 2.000 families. These are all in addition to our ongoing humanitarian assistance projects in Gaza.

Naturally, the establishment of peace and security in the Middle East is possible only through taking viable steps towards the settlement of the Palestinian question. Turkey has always supported all efforts towards a lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, comprising of two states living side by side in peace and security, based on pre-1967 borders, relevant UN resolutions, Madrid Principles and the Arab Peace Initiative. Unfortunately, Israel has suspended the recent talks that would lead to a solution beneficial to all and decided to impose its one-sided policies instead. The international community should give a strong message that sustainable security cannot be achieved through military means and oppression, but only through dialogue with the other side.

Turkey supports the inalienable rights of the State of Palestine to enjoy fully the privileges of statehood, including becoming a member to the UN, other international organizations and joining international treaties. We support the proposal of President Abbas to find an appropriate international response to the protection needs of Palestinian civilians.

Mr. President,

The Syrian regime continues to brutally oppress the Syrian people in flagrant violation of the international law by taking advantage of the lack of effective action by the international community. These violations must be stopped and those responsible must be held accountable. The elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme remains to be completed.

“Uninterrupted” and “effective” delivery of cross-border and cross-line humanitarian operations is key to respond to the most urgent needs in Syria. Unfortunately, the regime has also consistently violated the provisions of the Resolution 2139 by arbitrarily denying humanitarian assistance to its people, hindering humanitarian access from most direct routes and systematically removing medical supplies from humanitarian convoys. These violations, among others, led to Resolution 2165. We hope that it will not share the fate of 2139. Turkey has already started cooperating with the UN on implementation of 2165.

Political settlement remains the main priority for bringing a peaceful end to the Syrian conflict. Unfortunately, the Syrian regime has insistently declined to discuss the parameters of a political settlement set forth in the Geneva Communiqué. Turkey welcomes the appointment of Mr. Staffan de Mistura as the Special Envoy the UN Secretary General for Syria and hopes that this appointment would finally revitalize the efforts in reaching a political settlement on the basis of Geneva Communiqué.

Mr. President,

Taking this opportunity, we once more call upon Israel to end its aggression on Gaza and get back to the negotiating table with a genuine desire to put an end to the decades’ long search for peace. We will remain in solidarity with the Palestinian people in these extremely difficult days they are passing through, as we always have been in the past. I would like to assure you, Mr. President, that our strong commitment to peace and security in its region will continue until that goal has been met.

Thank you.