turkey - AP - December 9 2010
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Turkish President Abdullah Gul at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara, Turkey, in December 2010. Photo by AP
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In a report published Saturday in the Turkish daily, Today's Zaman, the Turkish Ambassador to the UN expressed his support for Palestinian statehood, urging the international community to follow suit.

"The time has come to show solidarity with the Palestinians and help them to live in peace and dignity," said the Turkish Ambassador to the UN Ertuğrul Apakan during a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East on Thursday.

According to the report in Today's Zaman, Apakan said that if the Palestinians prove they are ready to become a full UN member, instead of maintaining their current observer status, the international community should not "turn a blind eye to their just and legitimate appeal."

“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,” said Apakan, according to the report.

In a New York Times editorial Thursday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul spoke of the importance of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He said that a "dignified and viable Palestine," living side by side with Israel, would fortify Israel's security.

According to the report, Gul said that the plight of the Palestinians has been a cause of unrest and conflict in the Middle East and a pretext for extremism in other parts of the world. "Israel cannot afford to be perceived as an apartheid island surrounded by an Arab sea of anger and hostility," said the Turkish president.

He added that Turkey would benefit from a peaceful Middle East and is "therefore ready to use our full capacity to facilitate constructive negotiations."

Israel's relationship with Turkey, once a key Mideast ally, has severely deteriorated since the Gaza war of the winter of 2008-2009, after which Ankara had severely criticized Jerusalem for use of excessive force in a dense civilian population.

The ties between the once stanch allies continued to worsen following Israel's raid on a Turkish Gaza aid flotilla in May of 2010, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.

Turkey has repeatedly urged Israel to apologize for its boarding of the Gaza flotilla, demanding that it compensate the families of those injured and killed in the incident, demands that were rejected by Israel.

Recently, Turkish officials indicated they rejected a request from Israel to help stop activists sailing to Gaza on the first anniversary of an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship, saying flotilla plan was not Ankara's concern.

The Free Gaza Movement, a pro-Palestinian activist umbrella group, has said that a flotilla expected in late May would comprise 15 ships with international passengers including Europeans and Americans.

Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Gaby Levy, asked the Turkish government this month to help stop the activists, saying sending humanitarian aide to Gaza outside legal channels was a "provocation," an Israeli diplomatic official told Reuters.

According to the report in Today's Zaman, the Turkish ambassador the UN said, "It should also be borne in mind that the phenomenon of humanitarian convoys to Gaza cannot simply be explained away as unilateral provocations.”