President Gül calls on US to recognize Palestine

President Gül calls on US to recognize Palestine

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
President Gül calls on US to recognize Palestine

Turkish President Abdullah Gül (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas review a guard of honor during an official welcoming ceremony in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Rresident Abdullah Gül has called on countries who opposed the upgrade of Palestine’s status at the U.N. General Assembly to review their positions, in an explicit reference to the United States, one of nine countries who voted against Palestine’s non-member state position during the U.N. vote. Gül’s call came as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas paid his first visit abroad to Turkey following the historic U.N. vote.

“We hope that those who abstained will change their current positions in a short time and lend their support to Palestine. I have no doubt that those countries who voted against [upgrading Palestine’s status] will review their decisions and understand that they cannot maintain their position continuously,” Gül told reporters during a joint press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He particularly stressed the large majority that had voted to upgrade Palestine’s status at the U.N. from “observer entity” to “non-member state.”

Abbas paid his first trip abroad to Ankara since the U.N. General Assembly voted on Nov. 29 to grant Palestine non-member observer status, with 138 countries in the 193-member assembly voting in favor of Palestine, 41 abstaining, five failing to participate, and nine – including the United States, Israel, Canada and a few Pacific island nations – opposing the proposal.

Hours after he arrived in Ankara Dec. 10, Abbas addressed the Turkish Parliament. Expressing his gratitude for Turkey’s support in U.N. vote, Abbas told Turkish lawmakers: “I will not forget Dec. 10, 2012, and I’m sure that the Palestinian people will remember this historic day. I’m paying my first official visit to Turkey after being recognized as a state in the U.N. I’m grateful for your economic, diplomatic and political support.”

Abbas said they could consider applying to the International Criminal Court against Israel if the Israeli government continued with its illegal settlement policies.

“This recent settlement plan is aimed at dividing the West Bank into two parts, which is a hostile move.
We have made clear that this is our red line,” Abbas said, referring to Israel’s plans to build new settlements in a highly contentious strip of the Palestinian-controlled West Bank near Jerusalem, announced just one day after the U.N. vote. Gül also denounced Israel’s new settlement plans in West Bank and urged it to learn a lesson from the vote. Israel should see how it has become isolated and how it has become a burden to its allies, he said, in a veiled reference to the U.S.’s position in the vote. Gül claimed Israel’s “dangerous move” of settlement plans aimed to divide the West Bank into two parts.

“Eastern Jerusalem will eventually be the capital of the Palestinian state and Israel will withdraw to 1967 borders. It’s obvious that Israel’s further efforts and endeavors aiming beyond [these principles] do not favor itself. I once again note that Israel’s settlement policy is unacceptable and playing with fire,” Gül said.