ANKARA- The event entitled “Middle East Peace Process in the New International Setting: Palestinian and Turkish Perspectives” was organized by TEPAV and ORSAM on 28th of March in Ankara. The meeting kicked off with opening remarks by panelists Amal A. Jadou, Assistant Minister on European Affairs of the State of Palestine, and Ahmet Yıldız, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey. Following the opening remarks, the event proceeded with a Question and Answer session where guests were given the opportunity to direct questions to the esteemed panelists.
In her opening remarks, Amal A. Jadou stated “It is always a pleasure for me to be in this country and to be surrounded by the love and compassion that the Turkish people have for Palestine and the Palestinian people.” Furthermore, on the issues relating to the event, Jadou emphasized that she will share her ideas regarding the Palestinian perspective on the current situation in Palestine as well as the regional developments and their impact on finding a solution to the Palestinian – Israeli Conflict. Accordingly, Jadou stated “for Palestinians, everything starts and ends in Jerusalem, because Jerusalem is the crux of the conflict between Palestine and Israel. And for us, what is happening today in Jerusalem is very alarming.”
Jadou continued her words by providing a perspective, as she stated “People ask me in Europe ‘Why should that be a problem, for Jewish worshippers to enter the mosque?’ If we did not have conflict, this should not be an issue. If we did have a status quo that was established under the Ottoman Empire, it should not be a problem.” On the issue she further stated “Our fears are justified”, and added “Jerusalem is the spiritual capital, it is the cultural capital, it is the social capital and so it really represents everything for Palestinians. A solution without Jerusalem will not, basically, be satisfactory to the Palestinian people.” Moving onto another problem, Jadou emphasized the ongoing settlements issue and specified that “Israelis continue with their alarming policy of settlements which really undermines the two-state solution because it breaks the contiguity of the territory of 1967 borders and leaves the Palestinians living in small Bantustans.”
Jadou asserted that there are numerous conflicts taking place in the region but she also placed emphasis on the importance of Palestinian and Israeli conflict and stated “However, we believe that the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict stays at the heart of all conflicts in the region. We do not fool ourselves and think that, basically, resolving the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict will resolve all conflicts, however, we strongly believe that resolving the Conflict can contribute tremendously to the stability in the region.” Moving onto progressive initiatives that are taking place in the region, Jadou stated “We do believe in the Arab Peace Initiative.” and further talked about the Initiative, “Basically, it calls for Israel to end its occupation of Arab territory in return for peace with the Arab world. So ending the occupation Arab territories will be met by recognition and normalized relations with the Arab world and the Muslim world.” On the efforts of concerned parties to solve the conflict, Jadou stated “I am a strong believer in multilateral approach to solving the conflict.” while talking about related initiatives by third parties and the length of time and efforts spent for a bilateral solution. Amal A. Jadou continued her remarks by pointing out the role of third countries such as France and the United States and their role in promoting the talks between conflicted countries. She concluded her remarks by stating “Turkey is a regional player, it is a big brother and we definitely count on Turkey’s support for Palestine and for finding a peaceful solution in our area.”
Following Amal A. Jadou, Ahmet Yıldız, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey, took the stage to give his opening remarks. Yıldız commenced his remarks by thanking Amal A. Jadou and welcoming her to Turkey. The Deputy Foreign Minister continued his words by summarizing Turkey’s position regarding the conflict and stated “The Palestinian issue, in my mind, represents two things. One is a major international injustice by the international community against the people of Palestine and secondly, it also represents a heroic resistance and resilience by the Palestinian people.”
To further his point, Yıldız asserted that “It is the centennial anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. So, what we face today is the repercussions of the same policies represented by this Declaration.” Continuing his remarks, Yıldız emphasized that “There is a just cause for Palestinians, in spite of the injustice served, unfortunately, by the international community but the parameters of the solution are well-established and clear and declared several times by the United Nations, by the countries, by the superpowers.” And Deputy Foreign Minister added “But always, at the end, it failed.”
Yıldız, while being critical of the approach shown by the Israeli side in the peace talks through the years, continued his remarks by stating “Fortunately, in recent years, the international community, especially the United States, came to a conclusion that the real remedy is a two-state solution. Hopefully, the international community will not retreat from this position. From the beginning, it is the essence of issue in the UN resolutions and it is the position of Turkey.”
Ahmet Yıldız continued his remarks by talking about the relations of Turkey and Palestine and stated “We share all the priorities mentioned, on recognition of equal, sovereign State of Palestine and the respect and preservation of the sanctity, statute and nature of Haram esh-Sherif, which is the holy site for all Muslims and, of course, the empowerment of Palestine and our Palestinian brothers, on every level, to establish their state.” Yıldız proceeded by further giving examples of humanitarian and technical assistance given by Turkey to Palestine but especially underlined the importance of capacity building assistance and added “For preparing the ground for a sovereign Palestinian state.” Yıldız concluded his remarks by stating “These donor conferences, pledges and our relations with Israel, all these will be exploited to further the Palestinian cause and to help our Palestinian brothers.”
The event continued with a Q&A session moderated by Nilgün Arisan Eralp, Director of Center for European Union Studies TEPAV, in which distinguished guests answered questions asked by the attendees.