Turkey condemns Israeli settlements, says they are all illegal

April 25, 2012, Wednesday/ 17:39:00

Turkey has strongly condemned Israel's new settlement activity and said all settlements in the occupied territories are in violation of international law.

A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Israel's decision to build new settlements in East Jerusalem and to “legalize” three settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank.

Israel said on Tuesday that it had granted legal status to three settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, a move that could shore up the governing coalition but which drew sharp criticism from the US, Europe and Palestinians. Israeli officials played down the decision taken by a ministerial committee late on Monday, rejecting accusations that the government had effectively created the first new Jewish settlements for more than 20 years.

The three outposts -- Bruchin, Sansana and Rechelim -- were built on land Israel declared “state-owned” in the West Bank, an area it captured in the 1967 war and which Palestinians want as part of a future state.

The Turkish statement added that all Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian territories is a violation of international law and that Israel's attempt to grant legal status to settlements within Israeli law does not change this fact. Most of the international community views all Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal. However, Israel distinguishes between settlements it has approved and outposts that were never granted official authorization.

Some 350 settlers live in Bruchin and 240 in Rechelim, both in the northern part of the West Bank, while Sansana, with a population of 240, lies further to the south. None of the outposts had been granted final Israeli legal status as formal communities.

Turkey said Israel's insistence on continuing with illegal settlements with indifference to international reactions prevents revival of the peace process in the Middle East and seriously puts a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in danger. Under current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, peace efforts with the Palestinians have ground to a standstill due to disagreements over Israeli settlement construction in occupied areas claimed by Palestinians.

Palestinians claim all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as the core of their hoped-for state, and see all Israeli settlement as illegal encroachment on those lands. They have refused to restart peace talks until construction halts.

Israel began settling the West Bank and East Jerusalem immediately after capturing them in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and 500,000 Israelis now live there. The international community widely condemns the construction.

Turkey also urged the international community to continue condemning the settlements and invited Israel to live up to its obligations under international law and to immediately end all of its activities that damage attempts to make peace.