Thursday, September 29, 2011

Davutoğlu: Palestine should be recognized

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has repeated that a Palestinian state should be recognized and that Turkey has always supported the Palestinian people and their aspirations.

“We support the recognition of a Palestinian state and will make every effort to boost support for Palestine,” Davutoğlu told reporters in New York on Tuesday, at the end of his meetings as part of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.

“We have been in contact with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC] as part of this process,” the Anatolia news agency quoted Davutoğlu as saying. He added that Turkey believes the Palestinians' right to a state of their own is their most honorable demand, and that the assembly's support for that was an important sign.

According to Davutoğlu, recognition of Palestine would make peace with Israel easier, and Palestine's recognition in the UN would help restore peace in the Middle East. He also added that none of the Middle East Quartet, comprising the US, the UN, the EU and Russia, originate in the region, implying that it may be difficult for the Quartet's members to understand regional realities. Davutoğlu said Palestine needs “concrete results,” not “new promises,” and that the Middle East Quartet's statement included mostly “new promises.”

The Security Council is taking its first official step to consider the Palestinians' request for UN membership. Lebanese Ambassador Nawaf Salam, who holds this month's rotating presidency of the council, announced on Wednesday that he was forwarding the Palestinians' request to the committee on new admissions, which includes all 15 member states on the council. The step is required by the council's rules of procedure.

Regarding the Palmer Report on Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship, Davutoğlu said Turkey expects justice, not mediation or objectivity, from the UN. When asked whether Turkey would bring Israel's blockade of Gaza or the attack on the Mavi Marmara to the International Court of Justice, Davutoglu said the blockade would be taken to the court, adding that the other issue was a different matter.

Meanwhile, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç says Israel is becoming more isolated. “Israel is growing more and more alienated in the world. Our treatment of the Israeli government is a result of its own hostility and disrespect for international law. That is why we have told them that we will not mend relations unless they fulfill our demands," he said on Wednesday.

Relations between Turkey and its former Mideast ally went downhill after a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May of last year that killed eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish-American. Ties hit a historic low earlier this month after a UN investigation panel released a report on the raid which stopped short of calling on Israel to apologize for the attack. Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and cancelled the trade of defense materials between the two countries, saying relations will not return to normal unless the Israeli government issues a formal apology for the flotilla incident, pays reparations to the families of the victims and lifts its siege on Gaza.

“The current Israeli leadership unfortunately is racist and aggressive, especially [Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman and his team, who are only tolerated for the sake of the coalition government. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have gathered to protest the economic situation in the country. Change in Israel hinges on how far Lieberman will be tolerated," Arınç said. The Turkish deputy prime minister said Israel had lost Egypt's friendship in the Middle East as well. “Egypt used to be one of the closest allies Israel had in that region. Now Egypt is friends with Turkey and has cut all diplomatic ties with Israel. Everyone knows very well what kind of a position an isolated Israel will be in when it is devoid of ties with Turkey.”

Davutoğlu: Palestine should be recognized