700 Gilo apartments to be discussed by Interior Ministry

Project to build units in J'lem neighborhood over Green Line has been slammed by left-wing groups Ir Amim and Peace Now.

Gilo neighborhood 521 (photo credit: Reuters)
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 ago.
The project was slammed by left-wing groups Ir Amim and Peace Now.
“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.
Right-wing city council members welcomed the project as a way to solve Jerusalem’s severe housing shortage.
“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 projects.”
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.
The 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 Planning Committee.