Friday, February 26, 2010
Turkey: Israel move threatens ME peace process
Turkey has warned that Israel's decision to designate two Palestinian locations as Israeli national heritage sites would impede the Middle East peace process.
“We are concerned about the announcement by the Israeli authorities that certain historic artifacts in the West Bank, some of which are of importance to the Islamic world, will be accorded 'Israeli cultural heritage' status,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a written statement.
“This step will create serious distrust between parties and harm the intensified efforts made in this critical period to revive the negotiations for the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been a source of grief for the people of the region for years,” the statement emphasized.
“We invite Israel to abide by international law in Jerusalem and the West Bank and to refrain from unilateral and provocative practices directed toward historic sites, including sacred places for Muslims, that are essentially a part of the Islamic cultural heritage,” it concluded.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that the regime is planning to include Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil in a "national heritage plan."
Palestinian authorities have called on the international community to pressure Israel to renege on its decision. The move has sparked Palestinian protests and has drawn criticism from other quarters, including the UN.
Democratically-elected Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has called for uprisings in the occupied West Bank to protest the plan.