Gilo Construction 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
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.
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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.
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".
The United States, Europe and Arab states said the announcement would
complicate efforts to renew peace talks and defuse a crisis over a
Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations.
Britain and the EU called on Netanyahu to reverse the decision, and US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said new settlement building would be
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post
, Netanyahu addressed the Gilo building project
"I think people now understand that in a metropolitan area like
Jerusalem, with three-quarters of a million people, there is planning
that takes place for new projects. People have families, families have
children, and communities grow: they grow in the Arab neighborhoods of
Jerusalem and they grow in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
"I have to say that this is one of the areas where Israel’s massive
planning bureaucracy gets full international attention. We have so many
planning stages, so many phases of approval that every time a plan moves
through one of these stages, it gets world headlines."
Netanyahu added: "We plan in Jerusalem. We build in Jerusalem. Period.
The same way Israeli governments have been doing for 44 years, since the
end of the 1967 war. We build in Jewish neighborhoods, the Arabs build
in Arab neighborhoods, that is the way the life of this city goes on and
develops for its Jewish and non-Jewish residents alike."
An Interior Ministry Committee gave initial approval to the new project
on Tuesday. The south Jerusalem neighborhood ogf Gilo is located over
the 1967 Gree Line.