Turkey slams Netanyahu’s ‘irresponsible’ settlement annexation remarks
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Turkey slams Netanyahu’s ‘irresponsible’ settlement annexation remarks

‘West Bank is Palestinian territory occupied by Israel,’ Turkish FM Cavusoglu insists after PM vows to extend sovereignty

The northern West Bank settlement of Rehelim. (Samaria Regional Council)
The northern West Bank settlement of Rehelim. (Samaria Regional Council)

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey on Sunday condemned what it called Benjamin Netanyahu’s “irresponsible” remarks after the prime minister said he planned to annex settlements in the 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 election 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.

“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 captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War are deemed illegal by the international community, and their ongoing construction is seen by Palestinians and their supporters as a major barrier to peace.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu leave the Arc de Triomphe after attending commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice ending World War I, November 11, 2018. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

Annexation could put any chance for a two-state solution beyond reach, Netanyahu’s critics fear.

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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