ANKARA-Turkey rejects plans to establish a post-war buffer zone in Gaza because it would be disrespectful to Palestinians, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Reuters reported last week that Israel had conveyed plans for the buffer zone to several Arab states and Turkey. Speaking to reporters on a flight from Doha, Erdogan said Gaza’s governance and future after the war would be decided by Palestinians alone.
“I consider even the debating of this (buffer-zone) plan as disrespectful to my Palestinian siblings. For us, this is not a plan that can be debated, considered, or discussed,” Erdogan’s office quoted him as saying. Calling for Israel to hand back territories it occupies and end settlements in those territories, he said: “Israel must remove the terrorists - which it markets to the world as settlers - from those houses and those lands, and think about how it can build a peaceful future with Palestinians.” Ankara has sharply criticised Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and hosts some members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Unlike most of its NATO allies and some Arab states, it does not view Hamas as a terrorist group. Erdogan said Israel had become “the West’s spoiled child”, and blamed Western support for Israel for the situation in the region.