Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Western and Arab complaints that the planned construction of 1,100 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo would complicate Middle East peace efforts.
"Gilo is not a settlement nor an outpost. It is a neighborhood in the very heart of Jerusalem about five minutes from the center of town," Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said.
In every peace plan on the table in the past 18 years Gilo "stays part of Jerusalem and therefore this planning decision in no way contradicts" the current Israel government's desire for peace based on two states for the two peoples, he added.
Netanyahu also stressed the construction approval announced on Tuesday was a "preliminary planning decision".