ANKARA (AFP) – Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Wednesday strongly denounced Israel’s plan to build new settlemen’s in annexed east Jerusalem and urged the Jewish state to retract the decision.
"Israel’s intention to build new settlemen’s in east Jerusalem has shocked the whole world… The Israeli leadership must correct this," Gul told reporters after talks with visiting King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Gul said Israel’s plan was "clearly in violation" of decisions made at the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis last month, at which Israel and the Palestinians agreed to try to negotiate a peace deal before the end of 2008.
Both parties also pledged to implement the 2003 roadmap plan, the first phase of which calls on Israel to freeze all settlement activity. "Everybody has a great responsibility for the success of this process. No one should try to block or hamper it," Gul said.
Israel said last week it had invited bids to build more than 300 new housing units at Har Homa in annexed east Jerusalem, the first settlement expansion since the revival of peace talks with the Palestinians.
In another Turkey-Israel related news, The Turkish government has rescinded Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) participation in a new bid to provide the Turkish military with spy satellites, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.
According to reports in the Turkish media, the decision was made after Israel demanded that Turkey refrains from activating the satellite over its borders.
"Should that prove to be the real reason Israel was written out of the bid, the incident may damage Israel-Turkey relations," a military source told Yedioth Ahronoth.
Israel Aerospace Industries won a Turkish spy satellite bid in 2000, but France based Alcatel Space Industries – which came in second the bid – appealed the results.
In an unprecedented move, the Turkish military decided to overturn the bid, awarding the contract to Alcatel; but the Turkish government decided to overturn the bid a second time, after the French government recognized the Armenian Genocide.
Once the bid was reopened, the IAI began renegotiating the $250 million satellite deal with the Turkish Defense Ministry; but Turkey’s Defense Ministry’s higher acquisitions division informed the IAI that only three European companies have made it to the final stages of the bid.