Turkey slams PM Netanyahu for saying he would annex Israeli settlements in West Bank

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticised Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu after the latter said he would annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins the election.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticised Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu after the latter said he would annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins the election.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (REUTERS, AFP) - Turkey on Sunday (April 7) criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as irresponsible for saying he would annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins Tuesday's election.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, was Palestinian territory and Israel's occupation violated international law.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu's irresponsible statement to seek votes just before the Israeli general elections cannot and will not change this fact," Mr Cavusoglu tweeted.

Mr Netanyahu, asked why he had not declared Israeli sovereignty over large West Bank settlements as Israel has already done in the occupied Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, said he was already discussing the move.

"I am going to extend (Israeli) sovereignty and I don't distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements," he told Israel's Channel 12 News on Saturday.

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

Palestinian leaders reacted angrily, blaming what they said was a failure by world powers to stand up for international law.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman echoed those charges on Sunday.

 

"Will Western democracies react or will they keep appeasing? Shame on them all!" Mr Ibrahim Kalin tweeted.

The Palestinians and many countries deem settlements to be illegal under the Geneva conventions that bar settling on land captured in war. Israel disputes this, citing security needs and biblical, historical and political connections to the land.

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.

Mr Erdogan, whose Islamist-rooted AK Party has led Turkey for 16 years, has criticised the administration of US President Donald Trump over its pronounced support for Israel, including Washington's decision to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future state they are seeking. Peace talks with Israel have been frozen since 2014.