Turkey always stands with Palestinian cause, envoy says

BETÜL USTA
ANKARA
Published 13.04.2019 00:09

Palestinian Ambassador to Ankara Faed Mustafa has stressed that Turkey has always sided with Palestinians against oppressive policies of Israel just as "it supported all repressed people in the world."

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Sabah daily, Mustafa emphasized that the united voice of the international community and leaders, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent words suggesting that Israel annex part of the occupied West Bank was crucial for Palestinians. "We heard reactions from many world leaders."

Netanyahu pledged last Saturday to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected, a dramatic policy shift apparently aimed at rallying his nationalist base in the final stretch of the tight race before Tuesday's elections. On Monday, Erdoğan criticized Netanyahu for his pledge, saying, "Everything the country has been doing since 1948 violates international law and U.N. resolutions." "The West Bank belongs to Palestinians, Israel is taking another occupation measure," Erdoğan said.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as Israel's "eternal undivided capital," a move never recognized by the international community. International law views the entire West Bank as "occupied territory" and considers all Israeli settlement building there as illegal.

Stressing that U.S. President Donald Trump's unconditional support to the Israeli government prompts Netanyahu to act more flagrantly, Mustafa said the U.S. government lost its competence and objectivity after declaring Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017. "We know that the U.S. has been trying to implement the agreement, what they called the 'deal of the century.' The people of the Zionist lobby in the U.S., including [Jared] Kushner, [Jason] Greenblatt and [David] Friedman, are among the team trying to execute this plan. Since it put Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees issues aside, we don't want to learn the content of this agreement anymore," he said. U.S. policy changed drastically in favor of Israel under Trump's administration. In December 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Palestinian claims to the eastern part of the city and breaking with longstanding U.S. policy. Following the decision, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution asking the U.S. to withdraw its decision. The U.S. president also designated Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization and signed a proclamation officially granting U.S. recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory. The Golan move, which Trump announced in a tweet days prior, was widely seen as an attempt to boost Netanyahu who is up for re-election on April 9.

Speaking on the Golan issue, the Palestinian envoy said that the U.S. decision was the latest example of a series of moves violating international law, reiterating that Syria has the right of sovereignty over the region. "Israel is the occupying force in Golan. But unfortunately, as we are witnessing, the White House is under Israeli occupation [too]," Mustafa said.

Israel seized roughly two-thirds of the wider Golan Heights from Syria after defeating an Arab coalition in the 1967 Six-Day War, occupying the territory as a de facto result since then. It formally annexed the area in 1981; however, the action was unanimously rejected by the U.N. Security Council and international community.

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