Israel condemned over Gaza raid at CICA summit

Israel condemned over Gaza raid at CICA summit

In a diplomatic coup for Turkey, all members of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), except Israel, denounced last week’s raid, in which nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed. “It’s not possible for us to forgive this,” said Turkey’s president, Abdullah Gül, at a news conference at the end of the summit, which brought together Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, among others.

Gül said Israel could go a long way toward repairing the damage resulting from the raid by offering an “acceptable restitution,” but added that “this cannot be forgotten by Turkey.”

The final declaration of the 22-member forum issued at the end of the two-day summit omitted any reference to Israel, which, as a fellow member, objected to such mention.

Gül, who as Turkey’s president is also acting as the chairman of CICA, read a separate presidential declaration in which all members, except Israel, criticized Israel’s actions. “All member states, except one, expressed their great concern for and condemnation of the actions undertaken by the Israeli defense forces against an international civilian flotilla transporting humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip,” Gül said. “In this context they stressed the urgency of lifting the inhuman blockade of the Gaza Strip.”

Israel, to avoid exposing any senior official to Turkey’s wrath, had sent its ambassador to the talks.

All CICA members, except Israel, also called for an Israeli withdrawal from all Arab lands occupied in 1967, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital, and a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem based on past UN resolutions said Gül.

The CICA declaration also included countering drug trafficking and underlined the necessity of an active cooperation against organized crimes, noting that respect for national independence and territorial integrity in interstate relations is vital. It also said separatism posed a very great threat to the principles of stability, security, independence, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.

The declaration said the next meeting of CICA foreign ministers would be held in 2012 and the fourth summit of CICA heads of state and government was scheduled for 2014. CICA had been a low-key forum until now, but the timing of the ?stanbul conference and the list of attendees transformed it into an opportunity for countries to launch verbal attacks against Israel and issue pledges of Muslim brotherhood.

Syria’s al-Assad, whose country is not a CICA member but was attending as a guest, said, “Turkish blood is not different from Arab blood,” while Ahmadinejad accused Israel of going beyond “all boundaries in its disrespect for humanity.”

Turkey, NATO’s only Muslim member and a candidate to join the European Union, has sought to raise its international profile in recent years, mediating on issues ranging from ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iran’s nuclear program.

CICA’s members include: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. The summit, during which Iraq and Vietnam joined as member countries raising the number of members to 22, marked the third summit of the forum.                                 Source