The remarks by Turkey’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, came in a daylong debate on Wednesday at the UN Security Council. Some 43 delegations participated in the debate on the Middle East, which was also attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
One year after Israel’s three-week offensive on the Gaza Strip, more than 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children remain trapped, Apakan noted.
“This cannot go on,” Apakan said, as he recalled that mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food insecurity were steadily worsening due to the impact of the continuing Israeli blockade.
The suffering must come to an end, he warned, repeating Turkey’s call for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860, which outlines support for sending humanitarian assistance to Gaza and removing the blockade on Gaza to help the socio-economic reconstruction of the region.
“In the Middle East, we are, yet again, at a crossroads. The stakes are high,” Apakan said, stating that building confidence and making progress toward peace will be difficult unless the crossings are fully open and there is an absolute return to normalcy.
“Progress must be made under the framework of Security Council resolutions, the Road Map, the Madrid terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative. At such a critical stage, there is no alternative to pushing forward with determination. Otherwise, as the secretary-general said, we risk sliding backwards, which is a possibility no one could afford.”
Turkey joined the 15-nation UN Security Council as a nonpermanent member in January 2009 and will hold its seat through the end of 2010.
Apakan also underlined that the current pattern of demolishing Palestinian homes, evicting Palestinian families and revoking residency rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem are “unacceptable and undermine trust between the parties.” Last year set an all-time record for the number of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who were stripped of residency rights, and in 2008 the number of such actions was 21 times the average of the previous 40 years, which was quite striking and gave a clear idea of the scope of the current practice, he recalled.