Ankara will not turn its back on Palestinian cause: Erdoğan
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
Turkey's president on Feb.2 received Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament in Istanbul.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received the representatives in a closed door meeting lasting roughly 90 minutes at the Tarabya Presidential Campus (Huber Villa), presidential sources said.
Erdoğan underlined that Turkey will not “turn its back” on the Palestinian cause or people, adding that Ankara will share "all means available" for ending the occupation and establishing peace.
He went on to thank the Knesset members for their service of representing the Palestinian will in Israel's legislative body against Tel Aviv's “oppression” in Gaza as well as its "Jewish State" law and "baseless rhetoric" against Turkey.
The president further encouraged the group to work in unity and solidarity, saying that the controversial law defining Israel as a Jewish state was in open disregard of Palestinian citizen rights.
The legislation also promotes Hebrew as the only official language, stripping Arabic as an official language while recognizing its "special status" in the country with a "united Jerusalem" as its capital.
The law risks further alienating the Arab minority who argue they already face discrimination from Israeli Jews and the government and already feel as though they are second-class citizens.
Palestinians, who have Israeli citizenship make up 21 percent of the population, are known as Israeli Arabs and have members in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
Ankara condemns Israel over Hebron
Turkey strongly condemned Israel on Feb.1 for its decision to terminate the mandate of international monitors in the West Bank town of Hebron.
"We strongly condemn Israel’s unilateral termination of the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), the multilateral observation mission in Hebron, Palestine," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, calling for a reversal of the decision.
The ministry decisively rejected Israel’s claims that the group was working against Israel and accused the Israeli government of using the claims as a rationalization for its decision.
"The TIPH, in which observers from Turkey have participated since it started operations in 1997, has made valuable contributions to easing the tension in Hebron under Israeli occupation," the ministry added.
The circumstances in Hebron leading to the establishment of the TIPH still exist, the ministry said.
"Within this context, it is clear that the termination of the TIPH does not end Israel’s accountability or its obligations under international law, first and foremost from the Fourth Geneva Convention," it added, calling on the international community to guarantee Israel’s compliance with these obligations.
The ministry said Turkey supports a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders between Israel and Palestine and "will continue to closely monitor the situation in Hebron with this understanding".
EU and Germany also criticize decision
Maja Kocijancic, the European Union’s spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said in a statement that the decision "risks further deteriorating the already fragile situation on the ground".
"The EU stresses Israel's obligations under international law to protect the Palestinian people in Hebron, as well as in other parts of the occupied Palestinian territory," she said.
Germany also criticized Israel's decision not to renew the mandate.
“The TIPH was part of an international framework to contain and solve the Middle East conflict on which parties had agreed at the beginning of the Oslo process,” Germany's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“Now this framework is breaking down, without having any other substitute,” it said.
Berlin said it was worried about growing violence in Hebron and urged all parties to do everything to prevent this from happening.