Turkey has strongly condemned Israel for confiscating a plot of land it said belongs to Palestinians and turning it into a park for Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Thursday said that Israel's settlement activities in the West Bank, despite all warnings from the international community, are unacceptable. About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Palestinians seek the territory for an independent state along with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The statement said Israeli authorities confiscated a Palestinian plot in Valaja village in the West Bank and plan to turn it into a park for Jewish settlers. It also said Turkey strongly condemns Israeli authorities' plans.
The statement added that Turkey is saddened by financial support the Israeli Parliament provides for Israeli projects in the West Bank and by an initiative in Parliament to ease tax requirements for companies that finance Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.
Palestinians say settlements, considered illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest UN legal body for disputes, would deny them a viable state. Israel cites historical and Biblical links to the West Bank and says the status of settlements should be decided in peace negotiations.
While the United Nations deems all Jewish settlements in the region to be illegal, Israel backs 120 official settlements, home to about 310,000 people.
Turkey said Israel is blocking the peace process with its negative position and damaging hopes of a two-state solution by means of the physical realities it creates in the region. The statement added that Turkey expects Israel to act in line with its international obligations and avoid activities that damage peace.