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Erdogan asks Lapid to refrain from Israel's settlement expansion until upcoming election

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting with US President Joe Biden during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 29, 2022. (File photo by AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid to refrain from Tel Aviv's illegal construction of new settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a phone call with Lapid on Sunday, Erdogan expressed hope that the policies of preserving the status of al-Aqsa Mosque and not building new settlements in the occupied territories would continue until the upcoming Israeli elections.

Lapid has become the interim prime minister of Israel as the regime heads towards elections on November 1 in the aftermath of the collapse of the Lapid-Bennet coalition.

Nearly 700,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds. The UN Security Council has in several resolutions condemned the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement projects, all of which are illegal under international law.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement construction activities in the occupied lands.

According to Turkey’s Communications Directorate, Erdogan and Lapid also discussed bilateral ties and regional issues.

Earlier this year, Erdogan expressed his country’s readiness to cooperate with the occupying regime in the energy sector as Ankara and Tel Aviv are working to repair their long-strained relations.

Ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv hit their nadir in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid on a Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, which was en route to deliver humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. The raid resulted in the death of 10 activists.

In 2013, Turkish-Israeli relations entered a period of normalization after then-Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an apology to Turkey, and the Tel Aviv regime paid $20 million in compensation to the Mavi Marmara victims.

Turkey and Israel reappointed ambassadors as part of the reconciliation deal in December 2016.

Relations broke down again in 2018, after Turkey, angered by the United States moving its embassy to the occupied al-Quds, once more recalled its ambassador from Israel, prompting Israel to also recall its envoy as well.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March to try to “restart relations,” marking the highest-level trip by an Israeli official since former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s 2008 visit. 

The visit sparked condemnations and protests in Istanbul, where hundreds of demonstrators burnt the Israeli flag as they shouted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”

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