Turkey issues fourth condemnation against Israeli settlement projects

Turkey issued a fourth condemnation on Israel’s settlement projects in less than two weeks on Feb. 7, the day Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı pays Ankara’s first ministerial visit to Tel Aviv in seven years.

“We strongly condemn the Israeli Parliament’s adoption of a law that gives approval to various settlements consisting of 4,000 units built on the private property of the Palestinians,” a written statement by the Foreign Ministry said Feb. 7.

Israel’s policies in conducting “illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, [which] are destroying the basis for the two-state solution, are unacceptable,” the ministry said, noting that Tel Aviv was engaging in such activity despite a U.N. Security Council Resolution from December 2016 that declared such construction to be illegitimate.

Israel has approved hundreds of new settlements in east Jerusalem after the staunchly pro-Israeli Donald Trump took office as U.S. president.

Turkey-Israel relations came to breaking point after Israeli marines stormed the Mavi Marmara flotilla, which was aiming to break a naval blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip in May 2010, killing 10 Turkish activists on board.

After six years of strained ties, Israel apologized for the Mavi Marmara raid, paying out $20 million to the bereaved and injured as part of the rapprochement deal signed between the two countries on June 28, 2016.

In December 2016, the countries also exchanged ambassadors for the first time in years, with Eitan Na’eh taking up his post in Ankara for Israel and Kemal Ökem doing likewise for Turkey in Tel Aviv.