Gilo neighborhood 521.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Interior Ministry’s District Committee is expected to discuss on Tuesday a
project for more than 700 apartment units in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem,
which is located over the Green Line. The project, called the Southern Slopes of
Gilo, comes up for discussion just days after the Palestinian bid for statehood
took center stage at the UN.
The project is part of a larger plan for
1400 units around Gilo.
The Western Slopes of Gilo project, with 942
units, received final approval by the Interior Ministry a few weeks
The project was slammed by left-wing groups Ir Amim and Peace
“The fact that it got to discussion now shows that the government
doesn’t care what the world thinks even in this critical time of the UN decision
in September,” said Hagit Ofran of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch Team. “It
continues with the policy of settlements, and gives the Palestinians a message
that Israel is the one that doesn’t want peace,” she said.
city council members welcomed the project as a way to solve Jerusalem’s severe
“I don’t think that Gilo is different from any other
neighborhood in Jerusalem,” said City Councilman Elisha Peleg (Likud). The fact
that the international community sees Gilo differently from, for example, the
German Colony or other west Jerusalem neighborhoods, is “not our problem,” he
added. “I welcome this project and hope there are other similar
Gilo is one of the five ring neighborhoods in Jerusalem that
were developed immediately after the Six Day War. In a final-status agreement,
such as one based on the Clinton parameters that calls for predominantly Jewish
areas to stay part of Israel, Gilo and the other ring neighborhoods are almost
certain to stay part of Jerusalem.
Though the new project will be
partially located in the Gilo forest, the Society for the Protection of Nature
said they are not opposed to the project as they recognize the need for new
apartments in the city.
SPNI filed opposition to part of the Western
Slopes of Gilo project and asked for a corner of the future project to be
conserved as an urban nature reserve, which the Interior Ministry partially
approved, said SPNI’s Jerusalem Hills coordinator, Avraham Shaked.
Southern Slopes of Gilo project began the approval process in July of 2008, and
has passed initial approval from the Jerusalem Municipality’s Local Building and