STATEMENT BY THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY AT THE UNSC OPEN DEBATE ON “THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION”

H.E. Halit Çevik 22.10.2015
Mr. President,

The Middle East is confronted with an alarming situation. Sectarian and divisive policies, brutal oppression of legitimate demands for democracy, terrorism, and unresolved conflicts result in humanitarian crises, mass displacements and feelings of resentment.

The Israeli-Palestine conflict remains the core challenge and undermines the prospects for lasting regional and global peace. The increase in the number of crises in the wider region must not distract us from the urgent need to relaunch the peace process. On the contrary, failing to address this issue will only further destabilize the region, deepen the despair and suffering and lead to more extremism.

The tragedy of Palestinians continues unabated. As tensions escalated recently in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in East Jerusalem, we are reminded once again how dramatic the situation is in the absence of any real hope for peace. We are very concerned about the latest developments and slightly relieved to see that what has been going on for the last months is finally receiving the attention it merits.

Our immediate priority should be a rapid de-escalation of tension. We should not see it as another perennial round of skirmish and wait for the situation to calm down.

But, at the same time, we should all be very clear about the root cause of the problem, which is the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and other Palestinian territories by Israel.

The current escalation began following the entry of Israeli security forces into Al-Haram Al-Sharif. The ban on the Palestinians to enter the old city of Jerusalem for two days caused a great outrage. It then spread to Gaza as the Israeli soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators and the Israeli air strikes once again took civilian lives. The casualties are mounting ever since.

We strongly condemn the disproportionate use of force by Israeli security forces, which flames up the situation.

Needless to say, at the epicenter of the Palestine cause lies Jerusalem. Jerusalem matters for the whole humanity. A city that is sacred to Islam, Judaism and Christianity, should be treated with utmost respect. The expansion of illegal settlements, violations targeting the holy sites and all other provocative activities, which aim at undermining the status and sanctity of Al Haram Al Sharif must immediately and unconditionally stop.

We consider the Jordanian role as the custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem crucial for the preservation of the historical status of Al Haram Al Sharif as an Islamic sanctuary in all aspects.

Mr. President,

The situation in Gaza also remains worrying. In addition to 8 years of illegal blockade, Gaza has endured 3 Israeli military operations in the past 6 years. The humanitarian conditions are so disastrous that according to the UNCTAD, Gaza could become inhabitable in less than 5 years if current trends persist. People who live in tremendous despair and insecurity, are losing their belief in the possibility of a solution and peaceful coexistence. The international community cannot afford to stand idle to this tragedy and let 2 million people live in such isolation anymore.

While the immediate priority must be to address the grave situation and growing frustration in Gaza, only long term solutions can change the tide in Gaza’s reconstruction. In this vein, lifting the illegal blockade and all other restrictions in accordance with Resolution 1860 of the Security Council is of paramount importance.

Mr. President,

The historical injustice against the Palestinian people, reinforced by daily illegal practices of Israel on the ground is fuelling hatred, alienation and radicalism in the region and beyond. Palestinians are still deprived of their right to have a decent life in dignity, respect and freedom.
As the Secretary General rightly underlined, the Palestinians’ hopes for peace have been dashed countless times.

We all agree that the status quo is not sustainable. The continuing Israeli occupation and its practices in contravention with international law hamper the efforts towards permanent peace. The need to find a negotiated political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, achieving a two-state solution and ending the longest occupation in modern history in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative remain urgent priorities.

Palestine’s just cause has been once again confirmed at global scale by the General Assembly’s decision which paved the way to the raising of the Palestinian flag at the UN. This was a significant symbolic step towards full recognition of Palestine.

On the Palestinian side, the need for Palestinian reconciliation is more relevant than ever. The consistent support and encouragement of the international community is vital in this regard. Once established, the Palestinian National Unity Government, with strong and inclusive institutions, should establish control over the entire Palestinian territory.

The current situation is a somber reflection of what is going to happen in case the two-state solution prospects are lost. In this vein, the international community should renew its engagement for the solution of the problem and assume its responsibilities. This is long overdue. We need to intensify our efforts towards the adoption of a UN Security Council Resolution setting a timeframe and parameters for peace negotiations based on the two-state peace vision. The Council should assume its primary responsibility vis-à-vis the international peace and security.

Turkey’s commitment support the Palestinian people for a dignified life will never cease. We will support efforts to find a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the conflict and to establish a sovereign and independent Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Mr. President,

Today, I wanted to focus my remarks on the alarming situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which requires our imminent attention. However, let me say a few words on the Syria crisis across our borders, which has left a nation with severe wounds, with more than 350 thousand lives lost and more than 12 million displaced.

We see every single day that the Syria crisis remains a major factor of instability for the entire region and beyond, and the lack of a collective response to address it persists.

We continue to assume more than fair share of the burden of the ongoing devastation. We are extremely concerned by the humanitarian and security impacts of the crisis, which constitutes a major national security threat to us. The current vacuum created at our Southern borders as a result of the chaos in Syria has played into the hands of terrorists, targeting also our citizens. In addition, we are currently faced with the risk of a new wave of refugees which is triggered by the latest regime offensive to Aleppo as well as attacks by DEASH. It is neither possible nor just to expect Turkey or any other neighbouring country to face this challenge alone.

The international community should keep in mind that the ongoing atrocities and humanitarian disaster in Syria can only be addressed by tackling the root cause of the problem: that is the violent oppression of the democratic aspirations and legitimate demands of the Syrians.
This tragedy will not end before the people of Syria have a legitimate government that truly represents their will and enjoys their full consent. On that score, the Syrian people have already spoken. They don’t want to live under the authority of a regime which has waged a war against its people.
The international community and this Security Council need to address the Syria crisis through resolute action. A long overdue comprehensive strategy with political, security and humanitarian pillars should be put in place.

First, we need to respond to the needs of millions of Syrians through a meaningful burden and responsibility sharing. This is a disaster and needs to be treated as such.

Second, the international community must act swiftly to provide the Syrians with safety in their homeland by creating safe areas in Syria, free from aerial bombardment of the regime and ground assaults by DEASH.

Parallel to these efforts, we must do all we can to defeat terrorist organizations like DEASH, Al Nusrah Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida while keeping in mind that terrorism is a byproduct of the crisis in Syria.

Third, we should all work for a solution that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Syrian people, and ensures a managed and orderly transition to a real political change based on the Geneva Communiqué. The political process we should vitalize would lead to a united, democratic, non-sectarian, secular, multicultural Syria within its territorial integrity.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by reiterating our strong commitment to the peace and security of the overall region and our full solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Thank you.