The Jerusalem Local Planning Committee on Monday night decided to proceed with the planned construction of 1,200 housing units in the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo located across the Green Line.
Gilo is one of the five ring neighborhoods in Jerusalem that were developed immediately after the Six Day War.
The decision comes amid widespread international criticism of plans to build as many as 6,500 additional homes across the Green Line in the wake of last month's unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood at the UN. This includes the approval of an additional 2610 housing units in the settlement of Givat Hamatos and 1500 units in Ramat Shlomo.
Responding to construction plans last week, EU foreign policy chief
Catherine Ashton issued veiled threats, while France questioned Israel’s commitment
to peace and Quartet envoy Tony Blair issued a sharp denunciation.
At a State Department
briefing last Tuesday, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland ratcheted up the criticism of
Israel’s settlement polices, saying the Jewish state was engaged in a “pattern
of provocative actions.
Paris on Thursday adopted that language as its own,
with the French Foreign Ministry issuing a statement saying “the unprecedented
resurgence in settlement projects is a provocation that further undermines the
trust needed to resume negotiations and leads us to question Israel’s commitment
to the two-state solution.”
The French statement “strongly condemned”
Wednesday’s approval of 2,610 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of
Givat Hamatos, calling the decision “illegal” and saying “it is all the more
serious because it amounts to the creation of a new settlement which, once
completed, will isolate the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa from the
rest of east Jerusalem. It therefore threatens the viability of the two-state
solution whereby Jerusalem is destined to become the capital of both Israel and
Ashton joined the fray, expressing dismay over the Givat
Hamatos decision, and saying it would “cut the geographic continuity between
Jerusalem and Bethlehem.”
The same type of language was used earlier this
month when the Europeans blasted the announcement of planning for development in
E1 between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem, saying that project would cut the
geographic continuity between Bethlehem and Ramallah.
broadly at some other sort of possible EU reaction, said that in light of
Europe’s “core objective of achieving the two-state solution, the EU will
closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and act
Blair issued a statement saying he agreed fully with the
statements expressed by the US State Department and the four EU countries in the
UN Security Council: “The problem is not only the building of such settlements
itself but also that this is a moment when it is vital to restart a proper
negotiation, and all such announcements do is to put new obstacles in the way of
progress and undermine the prospects for a negotiated peace.”
in the Prime Minister Office responded to the condemnations by repeating
Jerusalem’s position that all Israel had done over recent weeks was
approve 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the large settlement
“Everything else is just planning and zoning, and all that in
areas that will stay part of Israel in any final-status agreement,” the official
Herb Keinon contributed to this report