20 November 2012 / SINEM CENGIZ, ANKARA
Turkey and Egypt, two heavyweights in the Middle East, should send troops to monitor a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip that is likely to happen in the upcoming days, a top Palestinian envoy in Ankara has said.
"The best solution for the future of Palestine will be the presence of Turkish and Egyptian army in Gaza as they are two important and close countries in the region. Israel will never dare to attack Gaza in the presence of Turkish and Egyptian army. This will help to ease the conditions. This is the solution," Maarouf said. The envoy underlined that the presence of this army should be definitely under UN umbrella.
“We do not want any more statements coming from regional and global powers. We want immediate action that will save the lives of Palestinians on the ground. Turkey and Egypt should immediately send troops to Gaza and other Palestinian territories to save the lives of the Palestinian people,” said the envoy.
The Palestinian envoy had signaled Tuesday's statements in a previous phone interview with Today's Zaman on Sunday. “The whole world is just watching what is happening in Palestine. Regional and international actors should move on the ground and create new mechanisms to end this struggle. In which way, I cannot say, but they have to know how to stop the Israelis,” said the envoy.
Israel escalated its aerial campaign over the weekend, hitting civilian homes and areas, while Hamas responded by firing rockets into populated areas in Israeli cities. Egypt has unsuccessfully been trying to strike a deal between Hamas and Israel to halt attacks as both sides seem to be far from reconciling their demands.
However, diplomats believe that it would not be in Turkey's interest to take action in Gaza by sending in its troops.
“If Turkey and Egypt take action on their own by sending troops to Gaza, this may escalate the situation and these two countries could be blamed for escalating the tension. In such an event, Turkey may go through a very difficult period. It would be against Turkey's benefit as well as long-term interests to take such a step without international support,” Nüzhet Kandemir, Turkey's former ambassador to Washington and a prominent foreign policy commentator, told Today's Zaman.
“Turkey should contribute in the form of a force that would maintain peace with international support,” said Kandemir, adding it would be in Turkey's own interest to send troops within the framework of international platform rather than sending in cooperation with another country [such as Egypt].
Agreeing with Kandemir, Özdem Sanberk, a former diplomat and foreign policy commentator who now heads the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (USAK) told Today's Zaman that it would not be appropriate for Turkey to take action on its own by sending its troops to Gaza Strip.
“If Turkey plans to send its troops to Gaza, this force should be sent within the framework of international support, which is the UN. Throughout history, Turkey has always sent its forces as part of the UN or NATO. When a force is sent with the approval of UN, this force receives legitimacy from the international community,” said Sanberk.
Turkey contributed to the peace support operations conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan and Somalia territorial waters.