Turkish president Abdullah Gul on Tuesday blasted Israeli settlement construction, saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was “playing with fire” by advancing a plan to build in the E1 corridor between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.
The Israeli move came in the wake of the Palestinian Authority’s successful bid in November to upgrade its status at the United Nations to “nonmember state status,” and has been met with broad international condemnation.
In a joint press conference with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Gul condemned the Israeli decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in the West Bank, and said the country had become “a burden to its allies.” The Turkish president added that the UN vote that upgraded the Palestinians’ status should be a lesson to the Jewish state that it was “becoming more isolated.”
Gul said that Israel should have returned to the negotiations table, and charged that construction in E1, which critics say would foil the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian state, was “very dangerous” to peace efforts.
Standing alongside the Turkish president, Abbas reiterated a previously made threat to turn to the International Criminal Court if Israel followed through with its settlement construction plans.
If Israel “continues to act this way” the Palestinians would wield “all of the means” at their disposal, Abbas said, including “the court in The Hague.”