Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin İhsanoglu has strongly condemned the decision of the Israeli occupation authorities to construct 797 new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem Today`s Zaman reported.
İhsanoglu stated on Saturday that the continuing settlement expansion in Palestinian territories comes in the context of Israel's attempt to change the demographic situation, to create new realities in the occupied city of Jerusalem and to isolate the city from its Palestinian environment.
İhsanoglu stressed that all settlement activities are illegitimate and constitute a flagrant violation of international law. He also called upon the international community to shoulder its immediate responsibility by putting an end to the Israeli settlement policy in all occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry also lashed out at Israel's approval to build 797 new settlement units in Jerusalem in a written statement on Saturday, saying that all activities related to new settlements are violations of international law.
"All settlement activities run by Israel in Palestinian territories are against international law," the Foreign Ministry's statement, released on Saturday, states.
"We strongly condemn Israel's new settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian territories and the further construction of 797 new units in Gilo, East Jerusalem," the statement said, urging Israel to stop its expansion policy as it was infringing on permanent peace in the region. Turkey called on the international community to give the issue its due importance.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue building in East Jerusalem over the objection of Palestinians, who claim the territory as the capital of their future state.
"We are not imposing any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem. It is our capital," Netanyahu said on Sunday after the EU's foreign policy chief criticized the plans to build 800 new apartments and a military college on contested land.
Jerusalem is the main subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians refuse to negotiate while Israel continues to build settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel captured both areas in the 1967 Six-Day War.