Middle East

Turkey slams Netanyahu’s ‘irresponsible’ remarks on settlements

Turkey on Sunday condemned what it called Benjamin Netanyahu’s “irresponsible” remarks after the Israeli leader said he planned to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins upcoming elections.

“West Bank is Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in violation of int’l law,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu’s irresponsible statement to seek votes just before the Israeli general elections cannot and will not change this fact.”

Netanyahu’s comments on Saturday came just days before the closely fought polls on Tuesday and was widely seen as an appeal to rightwing voters, who do not believe in the feasibility of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“Yet another example of how Netanyahu uses electoral politics to justify occupation and undermine the two-state solution,” said Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“If he is re-elected, will this be a triumph of ‘democracy’ or occupation? Will Western democracies react or will they keep appeasing? Shame on them all!,” Kalin tweeted.

Settlements built on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War are deemed illegal by the international community, and their ongoing construction is seen as a major barrier to peace.

Annexation could prove to be the death knell for the two-state solution.

Turkey has repeatedly criticized Israeli policies even though the two countries in 2016 ended a six-year rift triggered by the Israeli storming of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead.

Erdogan, an ardent defender of the Palestinian cause, and Netanyahu frequently exchange barbs, notably during election campaigns.

Last month, Erdogan called the Israeli leader a “tyrant” after Netanyahu called him a “dictator” and a “joke”.

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