Davutoğlu says Israel tops list of human rights violators

01 March 2011, Tuesday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
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Ahmet Davutoğlu
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has criticized a US veto at the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 18 against a resolution that would have condemned “illegal” Israel settlements, saying Israel would be ranked first in a list of human rights violators if there were such a list.
Davutoğlu told reporters in Ankara before his departure for Geneva to participate in a session at the UN Human Rights Council that every country has to act “objectively and consistently” if the international community is to contribute to peace in the Middle East while commenting on the US veto.

The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, reflecting the wide support for the Palestinian-backed draft which had more than 100 co-sponsors. US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the US agrees with the rest of the council and the wider world “about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.” However, she said the US believes “it is unwise” for the UN’s most powerful body to attempt to resolve key issues between Israelis and Palestinians.

Davutoğlu ruled out the possibility of peace coming to the region if a certain country, implying Israel, continues to be treated differently from others, adding that the Mavi Marmara incident, continued Jewish settlements and the Gaza siege are examples of this preferential treatment. “If you try to make a list of human rights abusers, Israel most probably would top that list,” Davutoğlu said.

Davutoğlu implicitly slammed the US for its reluctance to rebuke Israel for its illegal settlements, which he said bolster the Jewish state’s occupation of Palestinian territories, and said it would be futile to expect Israel to take the necessary steps for peace.

Davutoğlu also pledged that Turkey will continue to follow investigations into the Mavi Marmara incident, calling it “an attack against a civilian convoy, violating all human rights principles.”

Israeli naval commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, a ship that was carrying humanitarian aid to Gazans, on May 31, 2010, to break the Israeli-Egyptian-imposed siege of the Gaza Strip, killing eight Turkish nationals and an American citizen. Turkey demands an apology and compensation for the families of the victims. Israel says its soldiers acted in self-defense.

Davutoğlu said this is both a human rights issue for Turkey, which it will bring up at a session at the Human Rights Council, as well as a strategic matter in terms of it being violation of international law in the eastern Mediterranean.

The foreign minister also highlighted Turkey’s role in Human Rights Council and said that while Turkey was monitored for its poor human rights record in the past, it has now endorsed a policy to step up human rights standards in the world. “We have a policy of human rights diplomacy,” Davutoğlu stressed.

Foreign ministers from around the world — including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton — were in Geneva to coordinate action against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, which is brutally crushing rebels, demanding the end of the regime. Davutoğlu said he would hold talks with Clinton, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and Ashton in Geneva.

Davutoğlu says Israel tops list of human rights violators.

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