Turkey's Abdullah Gul and Abbas.
(photo credit: Reuters/Stringer)
The Palestinian Authority may file charges against Israel with the UN’s
International Criminal Court over the government’s recent decision to build
3,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank, President Mahmoud Abbas said
“We are not very inclined to resort to this path, but if
Israel insists on its unacceptable plan, then we will use other methods,” Abbas
said during a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul in
Ankara. “If Israel continues in this way, we will respond with all means – of
course peaceful ones – including the possibility of going to this
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev
responded by saying he hoped the Palestinians “don’t go the path of provocation
and unilateral steps.” If they do, “Israel reserves the right to act to protect
its interests,” he said.
Abbas said that if Israel chooses peace, it will
find the Palestinians fully prepared. “But if Israel chooses settlements,
especially in E1 [between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim], then we will act
differently,” he said without elaborating.
Abbas denounced the Israeli
plan as an “act of aggression and a red line.”
He said the Palestinians
won’t allow Israel to implement the housing project which, he claimed, “violated
international conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva
Even if the Palestinians decided to go to the ICC, they have
no short-term plans to pursue Israelis legally for war crimes, he
The Israeli housing plan, he said, was aimed at “punishing the
Palestinians” in the aftermath of the UN General Assembly’s vote in favor of
upgrading their status to non-member observer state. Abbas said the Palestinians
would continue to work toward obtaining full membership in the UN.
speaking at the press conference, said Israel’s settlement construction plans
amounted to “playing with fire,” and that the country was becoming a burden on
Gul, according to Turkey’s Today’s Zaman website,
characterized Israel’s recent announcement of settlement plans following the UN
vote as “very dangerous” and aimed at separating Palestinians in the West
“It is obvious that all of Israel’s efforts will turn against it in
the middle and long term,” Gul said.
According to Today’s Zaman, Gul said
the voting at the UN showed the degree to which Israel has become a burden to
its allies, specifically the US and Canada.
Referring to Ehud Olmert’s
comments last week at the Saban Forum in Washington, Today’s Zaman said the
former prime minister made similar remarks, “saying that making the announcement
to build settlements days after the United States sided with Israel against the
Palestinians’ successful bid for de facto statehood recognition by the UN
General Assembly was a slap in the face to Israel’s main ally.”
Minister’s Office, in line with its policy of not responding to the frequent
tongue-lashings coming from Ankara, had no comment to Gul’s statements. One
official explained that whenever the Turkish leaders have “problematic”
messages, Jerusalem is “restrained and measured” in its response in the hope it
is still possible to repair ties with Turkey.