ANKARA - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday condemned Israel's decision to ramp up settlements in the West Bank as an "absolute provocation".Israel announced plans last month for 3,000 more settlement homes in the West Bank. It has also retroactively legalized about 4,000 settlement homes built on privately owned Palestinian land, a move that brought condemnation from the United Nations and the European Union.Erdogan made the comment in a speech in Bahrain, while on an official visit. His comments were carried live on Turkish television.
Turkey and Israel normalized ties last year after a six-year rupture when 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed by Israeli commandos enforcing a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would present "responsible policies" in talks with US President Donald Trump, apparently signalling to the Israeli far-right to curb its territorial demands in the West Bank.Netanyahu is leaving for Washington on Monday and will see Trump at the White House on Wednesday for their first meeting since the Republican's inauguration last month, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and policy towards Iran on the agenda."This is a very important meeting for Israel's security and for Israel's international position which is getting stronger and for our overall national interests," Netanyahu told his cabinet ministers at the start of a weekly meeting.He also seemed to urge the far-right to tone down its expectations, saying his primary concern was to promote Israel's security interests and relations with the US which he said required "responsible policies," but did not elaborate.
Israel's new ambassador to Turkey arrives in Ankara