Turkey's two-stage plan for Gaza under fear of ground assault

Erdogan said Turkey suggested to work on a two-stage plan to end crisis in Gaza under heavy Israel bombardments

Turkey's two-stage plan for Gaza under fear of ground assault
Turkish prime minister said on Thursday that Turkey suggested to work on a two-stage plan in order to put an end to the current tension in Gaza Strip.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a press conference following his talks with the Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el Sheikh city of Egypt.

During the conference, Erdogan said that the first stage of the plan proposed by Turkey envisaged to launch an initiative that would display efforts for the immediate declaration of a cease-fire.

Erdogan said, if the first stage was completed successfully, reaching an agreement between Palestian groups rapidly would be the second step.

Noting that he had fruitful talks with Mubarak, Erdogan said that Turkey was ready to cooperate with Egypt in carrying the Palestinian issue to the agenda of the United Nations.

Upon a question on how the developments in the region would affect Turkish-Israeli relations in the future, Erdogan said, "Inter-governmental relations should never involve emotions. However, injustice should never be permitted either. If there is cruelty, we cannot support that. We can try to solve it through talks".

Replying to another question, Erdogan said that bombings should be stopped by both sides, embargo should be lifted as agreed upon in June 2008 agreement and humanitarian aid should reach Gaza.

"We call on Israel to declare cease-fire at first hand. Of course the opposing party should stop attacks likewise," Erdogan also said.

After completing his talks in Egypt, Erdogan returned to Turkey.

Fear of ground offensive

With the Israeli offensive on Gaza entering its seventh day, the death toll now stands at at least 420 dead with more than 2,100 injured.

With Israel continuing to pound Gaza, the situation for Gaza residents is becoming increasingly desperate.

Most of the 1.5 million people in the densely-populated enclave have no means of sheltering from the raids, and humanitarian groups say supplies of food and fuel are running dangerously low.

Hospitals have also reported shortages of even the most basic medicines and say they have no more capacity to deal with the growing numbers of casuaties.

On Thursday, however, Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, denied suggestions there was a humanitarian crisis in the Strip, adding "and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce".

Fear is also mounting that Israel is preparing to step up its assault on Gaza with a ground invasion, after it announced it would briefly open Erez border crossing to allow around 440 foreign residents to leave the territory.

Early Friday saw continuing raids on targets in Gaza, a day after the Israeli army began clearing landmines along the border in apparent preparation for a possible ground offensive.

Tanks, armoured vehicles and troops have been massing along the border for several days.

Agencies
Last Mod: 02 Ocak 2009, 09:08
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