Turkey to play regional role: Palestinian envoy

Turkey to play regional role: Palestinian envoy

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey to play regional role: Palestinian envoy

Mansour thinks there will be a breakthrough very soon on the Palestinian issue. AFP photo

One of the main ramifications of the Arab Spring has been the fact that the turmoil in the region has taken the attention away from the Palestinian issue, a Palestinian envoy said yesterday.

Riyad Mansour, ambassador and permanent observer of the state of Palestine for the United Nations said that, as no breakthrough was visible on the horizon in the Israeli-Palestinian talks, there was not much of a role to be played at this stage by regional actors like Turkey. “But when there will be a breakthrough in the political process; there will be things required from our friends and I am sure Turkey will be with us to share the responsibility,” he said, noting Turkey was equally consumed by the tragedy in Syria.

Speaking at the media seminar of Peace in the Middle East, organized by the United Nations and hosted by the Turkish government, Mansour said the Palestinian issue was the number one issue in the Arab world, but the developments of the Arab Spring led political forces in turmoil to concentrate on other issues. “Developments are not allowing the Palestinian issue to come back to the front burner, but we know Palestinians are in the minds of the Arabs, that will not change” said Mansour.

Mansour reiterated the position of the Palestinian administration concerning developments in Arab Spring countries when asked about the coup in the country. “We do not interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries. But of course we are not neutral in wishing the best in their struggle for a better life, for better economic distribution of wealth, for democracy. But we hope Arab countries do it in a peaceful manner not in a tragic manner like in Syria,” he said.

The Palestinian envoy added that the Palestinian movement was a multiparty one, but that Palestinians were also sharing their own tragedy – the split between Gaza and the West Bank. “We are learning our lessons from it and trying to solve this split in a peaceful manner,” he said.

When asked about a possible role Turkey could play in the ongoing talks between Palestinians and Israelis, Mansour started by mentioning the support Palestinians received from Turkey to garner support when Palestine applied for non-member observer status in the U.N. last year.

“Turkey was one of the countries helping us, the Organization of Islamic Conference, to convince the European countries. When we made our submission to the U.N., I vividly remember that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, together with the Indonesian foreign minister, were the only foreign ministers present at the general assembly and the first ones to come and congratulate President Mahmoud Abbas,” he said.

Yet the Palestinian issue has changed toward the direction of negotiations and there is no significant breakthrough in talks, leaving no room for players like Turkey to play a role like they did two years ago.
Yet soon, within 6 to 8 months, there will have to be breakthrough; then international and regional actors, including Turkey, would have to share the responsibility, according to Mansour.

Currently, Turkey is consumed with the tragedy in Syria. “There is a limit to the energy you can invest when you have a burning issue on your border,” he said.