Turkey condemns plans for new Israeli settlements

Photo: Turkey condemns plans for new Israeli settlements / Politics

Turkey has condemned Israel's recent call for bids to construct additional settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying the announcement of a tender is against international law and endangers peace negotiations, Today's Zaman reported.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Foreign Ministry expressed support for the peace talks between Israel and Palestine and underlined that it is obligatory for Israel to avoid taking steps that would endanger the continuation of negotiations.

"Turkey supports the ongoing negotiations that started with the US initiative and are being conducted within the framework of a solution that will have two countries living peacefully within the pre-1967 borders. This finalization of this process with a fair, extensive and final agreement that will enable the foundation of an independent and sovereign Palestine state whose capital will be East Jerusalem is our strongest desire," the Foreign Ministry statement said.

According to reports citing Israel's housing ministry, on Friday Israel announced plans to build approximately 1,400 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory the Palestinians claim for their future state.

The announcement of plans for new settlements came just days after US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Israel in early January hoping to re-energize peace negotiations and find common ground between pessimistic Israeli and Palestinian officials.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, condemned the Israeli announcement, saying it undermines the "American efforts aimed at creating a peace track toward a two-state solution."

"It is obligatory to avoid taking steps that are against the spirit of the peace process and that endanger the continuation of negotiations. Within this scope, we condemn Israel's announcement on Jan. 10 of new tenders for the construction of some 1,400 illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank that are against international law," the statement released by the Foreign Ministry said, and called for the end of such acts that jeopardize a solution between Israel and Palestine.

The new homes are planned to be in Ramat Shlomo, an enclave in East Jerusalem, and in various West Bank settlements.

The Palestinians have demanded those areas, captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, for their state. They had long refused to negotiate with Israel while settlement construction continued.

After nine months of efforts led by US Secretary of State John Kerry intended to rekindle the direct diplomacy between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government stalled since 2010, the groundwork to proceed was laid in late July 2013. Since the peace talks resumed last summer, Israel has issued more than 5,000 tenders for new housing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, said Yariv Oppenheimer of the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now.

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