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Turkey backs independent Palestine

April 23, 2011 at 5:37 PM

NEW YORK, April 23 (UPI) -- Turkey, historically one of Israel's few allies in the Middle East, has declared its support for a unilateral Palestinian independence declaration.

Ertugrul Apakan, the Turkish ambassador to the United Nations, said Thursday during a Security Council debate other countries must not "turn a blind eye" to Palestinians' legitimate claims, Today's Zaman reported.

"Through their state-building efforts, the Palestinian Authority has proven to all the skeptics that they deserve to attain their decades-long target of internationally recognized statehood, even though they continue to suffer under occupation," he said.

Palestinian leaders have said if the peace process remains unresolved in September they will seek U.N. recognition as an independent country.

Relations between Turkey and Israel became strained when several Turks participating in a humanitarian convoy to Gaza were killed in a confrontation with the Israeli military.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Thursday in an op-ed piece in The New York Times the future of the movement for democracy in the Middle East depends on creating a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace and a broader peace between Israel and its neighbors in the region.

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