Jerusalem furthers plans for 891 housing units approved in contested Gilo neighborhood

Construction intended to block the contiguity of a Palestinian state, critics say.

December 16, 2015 13:34
1 minute read.

Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee on Wednesday furthered plans for 891 previously approved housing units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.

In a brief statement, a municipal official said that despite media reports that Wednesday’s meeting approved the units, the homes were in fact approved over two years ago. The meeting, the official said, was technical in nature, to determine boundary lines and other considerations, such as gas services, for the homes.

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The Gilo neighborhood is over the 1949 armistice line. Last month, in an apparent effort to deescalate tensions with the US and avert another diplomatic row, the government temporarily and abruptly froze plans for the housing development shortly before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama in Washington.

However, in April, construction already commenced for 708 Jewish homes in the disputed neighborhood, which are being built in a forested area, drawing the ire of Palestinian activists and environmentalists alike.

According to critics, the announcement to build in Gilo last year, while US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Israel, helped derail peace talks and buttressed claims that Netanyahu has no intention of agreeing to a twostate solution.

In June, Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at the NGO Ir Amim, contended that Israel built the Gilo neighborhood to block the contiguity of a Palestinian state.

April’s groundbreaking came one week after the planned construction of some 1,500 apartments in the capital’s southeastern Har Homa neighborhood were frozen, and two days after preliminary plans for the construction of 2,200 Arab housing units in the capital’s southeastern Jebl Mukaber neighborhood were approved by the Interior Ministry’s District Planning and Building Committee.

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