Peace at home, peace in the world

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Statement by H.E. Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey at the Expanded Extraordinary Meeting of OIC Executive Committee, 12 August 2014, Jeddah

Honorable Chairman, Your Royal Highness Prince Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz,
His Excellency Rami Hamdallah, Prime Minister of the State of Palestine,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Honorable Ministers,

Allow me first to express our deep appreciation and thanks to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and His Royal Highness Prince Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz for hosting this crucial meeting on the serious situation in the Occupied State of Palestine. I also would like to thank our Secretary General Dr Iyad Madani for convening this meeting upon the request of Turkey.

Today, the members of the Islamic world demonstrate its solidarity yet again with the Palestinian people against the illegal practices of collective punishment by Israel. I hereby pledge our continued support to the government of Palestine and its Prime Minister Hamdallah.

I would like to elaborate on three main dimensions of our approach to the situation in Palestine.

First, the Israeli aggression in Palestine and its consequences:

Unfortunately this is not the first time that we witness an Israeli attack against Gaza. Israel attacked Gaza in 2008 and 2012. Israel believes that, its military might, will crush the Palestinian resistance to fight for its freedom. Israel is grossly mistaken in this perception. The Palestinian people will not succumb to Israel’s tyranny. As in the past, they will continue their struggle against the Israeli occupation and oppression.

Israel used the abduction and the subsequent murder of three Israeli settlers as a pretext to destroy the Palestinian National Unity Government. Israel’s military operations in the West Bank that resulted in arbitrary arrests of 800 Palestinians increased the tension. Israel’s military aggression to Gaza since 7th of July caused a human tragedy in the region. The massive death and destruction in Gaza have shocked the world. The international community has witnessed the massive destructive effects of Israel’s aggression. Gaza lies in ruins today. The already feeble infrastructure in Gaza, including the only power plant, UNRWA schools, homes, hospitals and mosques were hit and destroyed. Almost two thousand Palestinians lost their lives, many among them being women and children. More than 9.500 people have been wounded. And the toll continues to rise. These attacks were in total contravention of human conscience and international law.

There is no justification for this brutality that caused so much bloodshed and suffering among the innocent Palestinian people. Here, I wish God’s mercy upon those who lost their lives, convey our condolences to their families and the brotherly people of Palestine, and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded.

From the outset of this latest crises in Palestine since 12 June, Turkey made intensive efforts in collaboration with its regional and international partners to de-escalate the situation. However, our call together with Qatar and our friends in the region and international partners including the US, were unheeded by Israel.

Israel should be held accountable for its unprecedented attacks. All of the members of the international community including the OIC countries have a legal and moral obligation to make Israel accountable under international law for its horrifying aggression against the Palestinian people.

I would like to use this opportunity to praise our Palestinian brothers for their unwavering determination in their legitimate struggle while maintaining their unity in the face of Israel’s attempts to destroy the Palestinian unity government. Strengthening the unity and democratic legitimacy in Palestine is imperative for a just and sustainable peace in the region. Turkey as a strong advocate of the Palestinian reconciliation process will continue to support the unity government in its endeavors.

Second, the way forward:

It is time for Israel to understand that its security cannot be ensured by military means and aggression but through dialogue.

Turkey together with Qatar has taken an active role for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine with the Secretary of State of the US, H.E. Kerry, the Foreign Minister of Qatar, H.E. Al Attiyah, the President of the State of Palestine, H.E. Abbas and other international partners. We hope that this will be achieved through the talks underway in Cairo for establishing a sustainable ceasefire in the region. I hereby appreciate the efforts of all parties including the President and the Prime Minister of Palestine and all Palestinian authorities and factions involving primarily Fatah and Hamas, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US and Egypt, who worked hard toward reaching an agreement that will stop the bloodshed in Gaza.

All parties should realize that a sustainable ceasefire in the region requires lifting the restrictions on Gaza. We cannot accept to a return to the status quo ante. New conditions that will increase the living standards of the Palestinian people must be created. This can only be achieved by fulfilling the legitimate rights and demands of the Palestinians. Turkey is ready to be involved in any international monitoring and verification mechanism that will ensure the lifting of restrictions on the flow of goods and people as well as sustainable economic development in Gaza.

The latest episode of Israeli aggression proves once again that only a negotiated political settlement based on two state vision will bring lasting, just and sustainable peace and security in the region. This requires an end to occupation and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital.

The international community should urge Israel to start peace negotiations with the Palestinian National Unity Government once a sustainable ceasefire is achieved. Moreover, we must be firm in our support to the Palestinian National Unity Government in exercising its authority on the whole Palestinian territory so that there will be a unified and solid Palestinian stance at the negotiations.

We now face an enormous reconstruction task in Gaza. The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is terrifying. The Palestinian people who are in dire need of humanitarian assistance are waiting for our helping hand. The international community should exert joint efforts for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Palestinians including food, water, medicine, as well as for the immediate re-opening of the power plant. In this context, I call upon the members of the OIC to address these most pressing humanitarian needs.

Turkey has provided over 300 million US Dollars of official aid to Palestine in addition to our recently delivered humanitarian assistance to Gaza, including food, medicine and fuel. We are working on new assistance projects such as supplying electricity to Gaza, building of field hospitals in Gaza and treatment of injured Palestinians in Turkey.

Recently, we provided nearly 10 million US Dollars especially for the needs of people in Gaza through the Turkish official institutions (TIKA, AFAD, the Turkish Red Crescent) and NGOs.

As we speak, our “air bridge” has been made operational to ensure delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Our doctors are now on the ground in Gaza, and our ambulance aircrafts are now evacuating the critically injured Palestinian brothers to hospitals in Turkey. Yesterday we received first group of wounded people from Gaza. I personally welcomed them in Ankara. We will continue this operation.

Last but not least, OIC’s role and importance in supporting the Palestinian cause:

Support to the Palestinian cause has been the founding stone and a top priority for the OIC. As in the past, the OIC acted promptly in this latest crises by holding an expanded extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee on 10th of July here in Jeddah. The Final Communique of that meeting provided a roadmap for the OIC states. As a result of our efforts in accordance with the Final Communique, the UN Security Council convened to discuss the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. We also succeeded in organizing a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. We attach importance to the implementation of the resolution adapted by the Human Rights Council, particularly its provision for the establishment of an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian Territory.

Mr. Chairman,
Esteemed Colleagues,

As I suggested in our earlier gatherings, words are not enough. The Islamic world should stand up in defending the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Palestinian people against the increasing Israeli aggression. The OIC has to adopt a more proactive approach, to secure a sustainable ceasefire, which will enable us to extend our helping hand to our brothers in Gaza. Turkey, for its part, is ready to lead and cooperate on such a humanitarian aid effort by our fellow Muslim nations, through the “air bridge” we have established into Gaza. We hope that this will be successful.

Dear Brothers,

We should not forget that as long as there is no permanent peace for our Palestinian brothers and sisters based on their dignity, the Muslim world will not live in peace.

Therefore, today I would like to propose an “OIC Action Plan for Palestine” to:

1. Increase urgent humanitarian aid to Gaza and all Palestine during humanitarian cease fire;
2. Intensify efforts for sustainable ceasefire in Gaza and for lifting blockade and all restrictions on Gaza;
3. Support and stand in solidarity with the UN Human Rights Council to implement its relevant resolution to prevent a recurrence of the Israeli attacks and to make Israel accountable to the committed crimes;
4. Intensify efforts to help reconstruction of Gaza and lead donors conference for this purpose as soon as possible;
5. Support the Palestinian National Unity Government and President Abbas;
6. Start a campaign for the membership of the State of Palestine in all international organizations and support the recognition of the State of Palestine in all international fora;
7. Embolden our unified support to the Arab Peace Plan initiated by His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz based on 1967 borders as Quds Al Sharif the capital of the State of Palestine.

I invite all fellow Muslim nations to support this Action Plan. What we need today is solidarity, solidarity, solidarity until the establishment of the independent State of Palestine.

Thank you.