The international community's silence in the face of Israel's defiance of a UN resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza is unacceptable, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday, stressing that the world has been watching the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza "as if it were watching a movie .
Yesterday the Israeli offensive against Gaza, which was launched on Dec. 27, went into its third week, Erdoğan noted, speaking at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Ankara for introducing some of his party's candidates in the upcoming local elections in March.
"Unfortunately, images of brutality that have been shown on televisions around the world in live broadcasts for two weeks and have reached almost every house in the world have not been sufficient for the international community to take a joint stance," Erdoğan said, stressing the huge loss of civilian lives that has resulted from Israel's attacks on Gaza.
"The targeting of schools, hospitals, mosques, ambulances and infrastructure, and firing on facilities belonging to the United Nations and humanitarian convoys have not been sufficient to move consciences. All of humanity is watching this merciless massacre as if it were watching a movie," Erdoğan said.
The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Israel's offensive against Gaza last week. The resolution was approved Thursday night by a 14-0 vote, with the United States abstaining. It was the result of lengthy haggling between Western and Arab states. The resolution "stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza." Apart from a cease-fire, it also called for the reopening of border crossings into Gaza and for the unimpeded distribution of aid in the territory.
With Foreign Minister Ali Babacan personally attending the three-day special session in New York, Turkey, a member of the UN Security Council, exerted frantic efforts for the adoption of the resolution.
Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has dismissed the resolution calling for a cease-fire in the two-week-old war as "unworkable," and warplanes and tanks continued to pound the Palestinian enclave. "After the meeting, during which America abstained and 14 of the 15 members adopted the resolution, Israel said it wouldn't recognize this decision. In regard to this stance, which has been assumed despite the fact that UN Security Council resolutions are binding, I'm calling on all countries: Should this stance remain as it is? How can one remain silent in the face of these [developments]? Whatever sanctions are provided for by the UN Security Council and the UN at such a point, these sanctions must be imposed," Erdoğan said.
The prime minister noted that a Turkish delegation led by Ahmet Davutoğlu, his top foreign policy advisor, was in Egypt as of yesterday to join consultations concerning the establishment of a cease-fire. He said Ankara would decide its next steps concerning the issue according to the outcome of the meeting in Egypt. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak initiated a telephone conversation with Erdoğan on Friday and asked him to send a special envoy to Egypt to join the ongoing cease-fire negotiations between Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials. Upon Mubarak's request, Erdoğan ordered that a delegation led by Davutoğlu and including officials from the Prime Ministry and the Foreign Ministry travel to Egypt.