15:26 GMT06 April 2020
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    Ankara and Tel Aviv have clashed repeatedly in recent years on the Palestinian issue, while the two leaders have waged a back and forth campaign of name-calling and mutual recriminations.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of seeking personal political gain in the upcoming elections to the Knesset following his announcement that Israel would formally annex the Israeli-occupied Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

    “Israel, encouraged by the support of certain countries, is continuing its aggressive policies that are turning it into a racist, apartheid regime,” Cavusoglu said Sunday, his remarks quoted by Anadolu Agency.

    Calling Netanyahu’s West Bank plans “embarrassing” and “despicable,” Cavusoglu also criticised what he felt was the weak reaction by other Muslim nations. “If the whole Muslim community had reacted together, the reckless plans, policies and behaviour of the United States and Israel would never have reached this point,” the foreign minister said.

    Cavusoglu’s remarks echoed comments he made last week, in which he accused the Israeli prime minister of giving “illegal, unlawful and aggressive” pledges ahead of the 17 September elections, and promised that Turkey would “defend the rights and interests of our Palestinian brothers and sisters till the end.”

    Cavusoglu took part in an emergency session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Sunday to discuss Netanyahu’s pledge to annex the Jordan Valley. At the meeting, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki accused the Israeli leader of undermining “efforts of peace” and threatening “regional and world stability.”

    Earlier, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned a decision by the Netanyahu cabinet to demonstratively hold Sunday’s meeting in the Jordan Valley, in which a proposal to build a new settlement was approved.

    Rudeineh said the meeting was “unacceptable” and a “violation of international law,” and undermined international efforts to broach a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine in accordance with the principle of two states, the spokesman said.

    Turkey joined other Muslim countries in protesting Netanyahu’s election promises, with the Arab League issuing a statement saying the annexation of parts of the West Bank would be a violation of international law and UN resolutions. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned, meanwhile, that Netanyahu’s pledge could “push the whole region toward violence.” Saudi Arabia similarly condemned the plans, saying Netanyahu’s remarks were “a very dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people.” Iran, meanwhile, accused Netanyahu of engaging in populism in a bid to “get votes and stay in power.”

    Last week, Netanyahu promised to annex the Jordan Valley and northern areas of the Dead Sea in the West Bank as a first step toward assuring Israeli sovereignty in the territory. The Palestinian Authority has previously threatened to pull out of agreements signed with Israel if Tel Aviv went ahead with the proposal, and said Israel’s annexation of the territory would lead to a collapse of peace talks. The Palestinian side seeks to establish an independent state including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with a capital in East Jerusalem, and has strongly opposed Jewish settlements in the West Bank.


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