UDATE – Turkey calls on Israel to halt illegal settlements in East Jerusalem

Turkey on Friday called on Israel to abandon its policy of building illegal settlements in Eastern Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s remarks came at a news conference with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki in the Turkish capital Ankara.

The Turkish official said Israel maintained its “occupation policy” in Eastern Jerusalem and Western Bank without a pause, and it was taking new steps to expand illegal settlements or transfer Palestinian houses to illegal settlers, which could pave the way for further destabilization in the future.

Ankara is ready to offer any support needed for elections to be held in Palestine in line with international standards, said Cavusoglu.

Stressing that Turkey would not abandon its vision of a two-state solution, Cavusoglu went on to say that the projected elections in Palestine, first in the past 15 years, but Israeli acts hampered this.

We have no doubt that the election to be held in Palestine will be conducted in a democratic and transparent manner just like it was in 2006, he said, adding the international observers had confirmed this back then.

Furthermore, Cavusoglu stressed that his country did not abandon Palestinians and their cause, and Ankara would continue to support Palestine in the future.

On Turkey’s improving ties with Egypt, he said Thursday’s meeting with Cairo between deputy foreign ministers was held in a “positive atmosphere” and that he might later hold a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart.

Recent talks with the Egyptian authorities focused on regional developments along with bilateral issues, Cavusoglu noted, adding Turkey sought to deepen relations in the coming days as instructed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to the minister, Egypt stands as an important country both in the region and for Islamic World, and Turkey’s political normalization with Egypt would correspond to bettering coordination to assist Palestine.

Maliki, for his part, said Turkey surpassed all others in its support and called on the international community to press Israel to allow for Palestinian elections to be held in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian foreign minister arrived in Turkey on Friday, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which said the two would discuss ways to improve bilateral ties, along with recent developments in Palestine and Jerusalem.

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the postponement of elections until Israeli authorities permit holding the polls in Eastern Jerusalem.

The parliamentary polls were expected to be held on May 22 and the presidential election on July 31, while the Palestinian national council elections would have been on Aug. 31.

Source: Anadolu Agency