Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is on an official visit to Washington D.C, and on [Friday February 10, 2011] he gave a lecture at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In response to a question on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Davutoglu said: “Enough is enough, the price of prolonging the Israel-Palestine issue is being paid by the people of our region, including the Turks. It is time for Israel to decide what it wants.”
Davutoglu said that no Middle Eastern question can be solved without touching upon the question of Palestine and the [status] of Jerusalem. A new Middle East has been emerging alongside the Arab uprisings and the question of Palestine has been at the core of all of these developments. A new initiative and approach are thus necessary to solve this issue in this new era.
Davutoglu noted that Turkey - alongside Egypt - has been working hard to achieve reconciliation between the Palestinian factions, declaring that there have indeed been positive developments on this front. He said that unless there exists one single authority in Palestine, it will be difficult to sign a [lasting and stable] peace accord [with Israel], even if one faction manages to do so on its own.
“We have to support the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. Without such a reconciliation there can be no meaningful peace process. Both parties have agreed on peaceful resistance. This is a sign that Hamas now favors a peaceful political approach,” Davutoglu added. He continued, “It is also a sign of President Mahmoud Abbas’ acceptance that people have the right to resist given that they have been under occupation for decades, albeit in a peaceful manner. This is good news for the Palestinians.”
[Davutoglu] emphasized that up until now, Israel has sent no promising signals to the region, the US or the international community. Instead, it continues with the construction of new settlements [in the occupied Palestinian territories], along with the issuance of provocative statements on the Palestinian question.
“All members of the Israeli government are clearly not in favor of a two-state solution. It is time [for them to decide what they want]. What will be the future of Palestine? Nobody can wait indefinitely as the status quo endures. The Palestinians deserve their own state. I want to speak frankly: The Russian veto on Syria was wrong, [but] the US veto rejecting the recognition of the Palestinian state was also wrong. All of humanity favors the recognition of a Palestinian state, and - some dogmatic individuals aside - everyone supports the legitimate demands of the Syrian people,” said Davutoglu.
Davutoglu said Turkey would support the recognition of a Palestine state, [in the immediate future] if not right now. He added: “These people deserve the right to build their own state. If negotiations are what is needed, then Israel should come to the table without preconditions. Enough is enough, the price of prolonging the Israel-Palestine issue is being paid by the people in our region, including the Turks. It is time for Israel to decide what it wants.”
Davutoglu asked: “Are [the Israelis] worried about the demographic increase of Palestinians [within their state]? Do they want one state, or two states based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine? If they want a two-state solution, they should come to the table instead of constructing new settlements on Palestinian land. If they don’t want a Palestinian state, then they should say so openly so that we know who wants peace and who does not.”