24 September 2009 – A resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on two States existing side by side in peace and security is indispensable to both regional and global peace, the Turkish Prime Minister told the General Assembly today, demanding an opening of barriers which he said were thwarting the reconstruction of Gaza.
“Turkey has on every possible occasion stressed that it is not possible to turn a blind eye to the appalling conditions in Gaza,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the second day of the high-level segment of the Assembly, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
“It is our common humanitarian and moral responsibility to ensure that the tragedy unfolding in Gaza is brought to an end, and an atmosphere of lasting peace is created in the region,” said Mr. Erdogan.
He told the 192-member Assembly that the three-week Israeli military offensive at the start of the year, which had the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by militants operating in Gaza, quickly turned into a human tragedy.
The conflict resulted in the deaths of some 1,400 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and over 5,000 injuries. Many buildings in Gaza were turned to rubble, and even UN sites came under attack, said Mr. Erdogan.
“It has been eight months since the declaration of the ceasefires that ended the hostilities in Gaza,” he said, adding that six months have also passed since an international conference in Egypt pledged billions of dollars for the reconstruction of the area. “However, I regret that the human tragedy in Gaza still goes on.”
Mr. Erdogan noted that closures at border crossings block reconstruction materials and supplies from entering Gaza, causing extended suffering for the 1.4 million people living in the Strip.
“We demand that these obstacles are immediately lifted and normalcy restored to Gaza for the sake of peace and security of both Israel and the Palestinians,” he said.
Urging the international community to reinvigorate efforts to resolve the problem, the Prime Minister said told the Assembly that it “is our common humanitarian and moral responsibility to ensure that the tragedy unfolding in Gaza is brought to an end, and an atmosphere of lasting peace is created in the region.”
He underscored the importance of resuming Israeli-Palestinian talks – disrupted by the Gaza conflict – as soon as possible, in a wide-ranging speech that touched on talks with Greece over the reunification of Cyprus, reform of the UN, stability in the Caucasus, the territorial integrity of Iraq, and climate change.