By Janet Ekstract
UNITED NATIONS (TURKISH JOURNAL) – Ever since the Trump administration announced Monday that ongoing Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory are no longer considered “illegal, per se” – it has raised ire in Turkey, the EU and with the Palestinian Authority.
Just days ago, at the monthly United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East peace process, all 14 member states with the obvious exception of the U.S. – unanimously voted to reject the shift in U.S. policy on Israeli settlements that has remained unchanged for 41 years.
On Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spoke out against the policy shift, saying the U.S. break with longstanding policy is a “new example of the reckless attitude to legitimize the illegal acts of Israel.” The ministry added that the move has no credibility with regard to international law.
Palestinian Ambassador to Turkey, Faed Mustafa, labeled the American government’s policy reversal a “new crime” against the Palestinian people and called the move “political madness.” He added: “This is a new crime to be added to the series of crimes committed by the current U.S. administration against the Palestinian people and their cause.”
Mustafa explained that the U.S.policy change “granted Israel the right to annex these settlements despite the fact that Israel has agreed to negotiate the issue.” He urged the international community to get involved and “intervene immediately to stop that fiasco.” The ambassador emphasized: “The international community should assume their moral and legal responsibilities in this regard.”
The European Union responded by making their position clear that the Israeli settlements remain illegal under international law. As EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement: “The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334.”
Mustafa praised the EU stance and said that Palestinian leadership is considering their next move in response to the U.S. announcement. He commented that there are plans for an emergency meeting of the Arab foreign ministers to discuss the decision.
The ambassador concluded that the settlement issue must be resolved between the two sides. He said: “The settlement issues are still on the table as are other final status issues such as Jerusalem and refugees, to be resolved through negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.”