Turkey slams Netanyahu vow to annex more Palestinian territories

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 08.04.2019 00:03

Officials condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge to annex occupied West Bank settlements if he is re-elected, noting that the statement violates international law and destroys peace efforts in the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also said Netanyahu is exploiting elections to garner more votes.

"The West Bank is Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in violation of int'l law. Prime Minister Netanyahu's irresponsible statement to seek votes just before the Israeli general elections cannot and will not change this fact," Çavuşoğlu said about the issue.

The spokesman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ömer Çelik, on the other hand, said Netanyahu's pledge violates United Nations Security Council resolutions and disregards international law. "This pledge not only transgresses the law, but it also attempts to completely destroy it," Çelik said in a Twitter post.

"It is about time that the international community says stop to Netanyahu's madness," Çelik emphasized, adding that the Israeli PM's stance is an open attack against the definition of the values that make up the international community.

Çelik noted that Netanyahu was encouraged by U.S. President Donald Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and the decision to recognize the Israeli occupation of Golan Heights. He continued by saying that the Israeli prime minister is blatantly risking peace and stability in the Middle East and provokes Palestinians. Çelik also urged all world powers to condemn the discourse of hatred used by Netanyahu.

"There is not a single value or legal provision that he [Netanyahu] did not attack," Çelik said and added: "Those who support the occupation of others need to carefully think about the repercussions as it poses the most fundamental threat to international law and security."

Netanyahu told an interview on Saturday that he plans to annex settlements in the West Bank if he is re-elected, diminishing any hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian deal on the terms of a Palestinian state on lands Israel captured in 1967.

He bragged about "convincing" the U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Recently, Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a plateau Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

The move was viewed in Israel as a political gift by Trump to Netanyahu who is being challenged by former military chief Benny Gantz. The U.S. State Department declined to comment on Netanyahu's statement.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel occupies roughly two-thirds of the wider Golan Heights as a de facto result of the conflict. It moved to formally annex the territory in 1981, an action unanimously rejected at the time by the U.N. Security Council.

Trump said on Saturday that he made the controversial decision to recognize Israel's 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights after getting a quick history lesson and told the American Jews that Netanyahu was "your president," confusing Jews with Israelis.

Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition gathering in Las Vegas, Trump said he made the snap decision during a discussion with his top Middle East peace advisers, including the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

"I said, ‘Fellows, do me a favor. Give me a little history, quick. Want to go fast. I got a lot of things I'm working on: China, North Korea. Give me a quickie," Trump said to laughter from the Las Vegas crowd.

"‘How do you like the idea of me recognizing exactly what we're discussing?'" said Trump, recounting the conversation.

Trump, who typically demands short sharp briefings and is known for his colorful retelling of stories, said Friedman was shocked, "like a wonderful, beautiful baby," and asked the president if he would actually do it.

"I went – ‘BING!' – it was done," Trump said on Saturday, describing the swiftness of his decision. "We make fast decisions. And we make good decisions."

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