Turkey slams Netanyahu's 'racist, illegal' Jordan Valley annexation pledge
Turkey on Tuesday slammed as "racist" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial pledge to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if he is re-elected in September 17 polls.
"The election promise of Netanyahu, who is giving all kind of illegal, unlawful and aggressive messages before the election, is a racist apartheid state," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on his official Twitter account in both English and Turkish.
"Will defend rights and interests of our Palestinian brothers&sisters till the end," he added.
The Turkish government regards itself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and has never shied away from criticism of Israel.
Netanyahu issued the deeply controversial pledge as he gears up for elections on September 17. He also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements in the wider West Bank if re-elected.
Palestinians immediately reacted to Netanyahu's statement by saying he was destroying any hopes for peace, while his electoral opponents accused him of a cynical play for right-wing nationalist votes with polls only a week away.
The United Nations warned Netanyahu that his plan to annex the Jordan Valley would have no "international legal effect."
Such moves could effectively kill any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long the focus of international diplomacy.
"The secretary-general's position has always been clear: unilateral actions are not helpful in the peace process," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
"Any Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdictions and administration in the occupied West Bank is without any international legal effect," the spokesman added.
"Such a prospect would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace, and the very essence of a two-state solution."
Governments of Israel have long claimed that the Jordan Valley was part of the country and that they would never relinquish control over it.
The valley was conquered by Israel during the war in 1967, and since then has mostly been under its military and administrative control.
Israel has always maintained that it cannot give it up for reasons of security.
According to human rights group B'Tselem, the northern Dead Sea and the Jordan valley "constitute almost 30 percent of the West Bank. Nearly 65,000 Palestinians and some 11,000 [Israeli] settlers live there".
Despite Israel's currently occupation of the region, a formal annexation would lead to Israel's complete control over the region, spelling disaster for the Palestinians that currently live there and would be a further major blow to the viability of a Palestinian state.
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