First ladies from Middle Eastern nations gathered in İstanbul on Saturday as part of an initiative developed by the Turkish prime minister's wife, Emine Erdoğan, and added their voices to international demands that Israel halt attacks on Gaza, withdraw troops and end its blockade.
Meeting in İstanbul, the wives of the leaders also made an emotional plea for international aid to help women and children in the stricken region.
"We, in the name of mothers who attach great importance to peace and human life, request that the international community press Israel to stop its attacks," said Erdoğan, reading from a joint declaration issued at the end of their meeting. "Israel must abide by the UN resolution [calling for a cease-fire]. It must lift the embargo. Israel must immediately withdraw its forces from Gaza," she said.
Jordan's Queen Rania, Syria's Asma Assad, Sheika Mozah Bint Nasser al-Missned of Qatar and Lebanon's Wafaa Suleiman were joined by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's daughter, Aisha, and the Pakistani prime minister's wife, Fauzia Gilani, at the meeting, which was held at a hotel on the shores of the Bosporus.
Several female ministers and parliamentarians from Azerbaijan, Syria, Pakistan, Jordan and Turkey, as well as officials of several aid organizations from Turkey, Syria, Qatar, Jordan and the United Nations, also attended the meeting.