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'Turkey slams Israel for continued W. Bank building'

July 26, 2011 02:46

In response to publishing of tenders for settlement units, Ankara says "illegal actions on invaded lands are unacceptable,” report says.

Israeli flag over settlements (illustrative).

Israeli flag flutters over settlement of Ofra 311 R. (photo credit:Laszlo Balogh / Reuters)

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned Israel for continuing to approve the building of new homes in West Bank settlements, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Monday.

“Israel’s illegal actions on the lands it has invaded are unacceptable,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said in response to the Ministry of Housing and Construction's publishing of tenders for 336 settlement units last week.

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“This decision will deepen the suspicions of Israel’s sincerity in pushing the peace process forward,” the statement added, according to the newspaper. “We stress that we don’t recognize the illegal steps Israel is taking, challenging international law.”

The statement represents a further blow to the already strained relationship between the two countries, which has come under close scrutiny in the run up to the publication of the UN report into the IDF raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship last year.

According to the Ministry of Housing and Construction, 294 new homes will be built in the Beitar Illit settlement just outside of Jerusalem and 42 in the Karnei Shomron settlement outside of Kfar Sava.

News of the possible authorization of the homes was first released in May and has been reported on several times since then. The Beitar Illit homes were actually approved by the Defense Ministry in April.

Both West Bank Jewish communities are located within the settlement blocs. Israel believes that both settlements will be included in Israel permanent borders once an final status agreement is reached with the Palestinians.

New construction in both communities has effectively been frozen, since both settlements had began work on all of their authorized housing.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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