A statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, released late on Wednesday, said Turkey “strongly condemns” plans to build houses in the Har Homa, Beitar Illit and Givat Zeev settlements. It said the move puts the prospects for a two-state settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at serious risk. “We call on the Israeli government to act in line with its responsibilities stemming from international law and stop actions that harm peace prospects,” the statement said.
The Israeli Housing Ministry said on Sunday that Israel was marketing land for 500 homes in Har Homa, 348 in Beitar Illit and 180 in Givat Zeev. The move is part of Israeli plans to accelerate settlement building, which came after Palestinians won recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last month.
Palestinians have conditioned a return to peace talks on a freeze on settlement building. Peace talks collapsed a year ago over the settlements issue, and the Palestinians have since sought recognition for statehood from the United Nations.
The move to build new homes in West Bank settlements came amid attacks by Jewish extremists on mosques in Jerusalem and other places. Assailants torched and vandalized two mosques and daubed racist anti-Arab graffiti on their walls in Jerusalem and the village of Burqa near Ramallah on Dec. 14 and 15, respectively. On Dec. 19, Jewish extremists attacked another mosque, this time in al-Khalil, leaving its walls sprayed with racist graffiti insulting Arabs and Islam.
In a separate statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the recent attacks on mosques and called on the Israeli authorities to take “decisive measures” to prevent the repeat of such attacks and to find and bring to justice the perpetrators of the attacks.
Turkey, once a close ally of Israel, has sharply criticized the Jewish state's policies towards the Palestinians. Relations were strained following a deadly Israeli offensive in Gaza in the winter of 2008-09 and came to a standstill after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists aboard a ship that was trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip in May 2010.