Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Israel must stop its occupation of Palestinian territories, which he says undermines the so-called two-state solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Erdogan made the remarks during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara on Monday.
The Turkish president described the two-state solution as the “historical responsibility of the international community to the Palestinian people.”
He further expressed Ankara’s readiness to support the efforts aimed at reviving the so-called peace process, stressing, “The key to success here is protecting the rights of the Palestinians.”
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories. More recently, Israel has further compounded the situation by building settlements deeper in territory that the Palestinians want as a future state.
Erdogan said Turkey believed that the path to permanent peace was the realization of a sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
Touching on the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in July, he said that “there is no benefit to anyone in increasing tension.”
Abbas, for his part, reiterated the Palestinians’ right to “live with dignity and sovereignty in an independent state with East Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital.”
He also thanked Erdogan and the Turkish nation for their firm “stance against the Israeli measures in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and their provocations of Muslims.”
‘Israel won’t retreat on settlements’
Meanwhile, on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that none of the settlements built in the occupied West Bank would be evacuated.
“We are here to stay forever. There will be no more uprooting of settlements,” he said in the West Bank settlement of Barkan while addressing an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory.
The development came a few days after a US delegation visited the occupied lands in a bid to get the Israelis and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
Nabil Shaath, Abbas’ foreign affairs advisor, said the Americans had asked for a three-to-four-month “grace period” in order to prepare and present a so-called peace plan.
About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories.
In recent months, Tel Aviv has stepped up its settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian territories in a blatant violation of international law and in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.