Turkey calls for independent Palestinian state

AFP , Saturday 1 Dec 2012

Turkish Foreign Minister welcomes the upgrading of the Palestinian status at the UN

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called Saturday for an "independent Palestinian state" and urged the international community not to allow Israel to undermine peace efforts in the Middle East.

Davutoglu, speaking at the opening of the Turkish-Arab Forum in Istanbul, welcomed the upgrading of the Palestinians' status at the United Nations as a "significant step."

"Now is the time to restore permanent peace in the region," said Davutoglu, adding that the establishment of "an independent Palestinian state" was a precondition to achieving peace.

The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a resolution on Thursday recognising Palestine as a non-member observer state, a move Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said was part of "a last chance" for a negotiated two-state solution.

Israel and the United States have both criticised the UN vote as an obstacle to efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

"We hope that the Palestinian flag will be hoisted at the United States with full member status," Davutoglu said.

He also criticised the Israeli aggression in Gaza which he said dragged the Middle East into new chaos. "Now is the time to show strong reactions to Israeli policies which undermine the peace process," he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressing the Turkish-Arab Forum, welcomed the UN vote about the Palestinians but said: "We must see and admit that Palestine is also a country under occupation despite the fact that it won observer state status."

Erdogan, a vocal critic of Israeli aggression, branded Israel as a "terrorist state" and accused it of "ethnic cleansing" in the Gaza Strip, which was battered by air strikes last month.

He also called for intra-Palestinian unity to form a "state with East Jerusalem as its capital".

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