Gilo panorama 311.
(photo credit: Matthias Guggisberg)
The Jerusalem Local Planning Committee on Monday approved a request to have land
that had been zoned for a hotel near the Gilo neighborhood rezoned for 130
RELATED:Gilo starts to lose its concrete shell Finding Gilo on the map
The project still needs approval from the District
Two weeks ago, the municipality removed the request
from the agenda, explaining that more time was needed “to examine the
ramifications of changing the plot’s designation from a hotel to private living
units, in light of the city’s policy on this issue.”
denied at the time that the item had been removed from the agenda to avoid
diplomatic problems, as the plot is in a part of Jerusalem that is over the
On Monday, a spokesman for the municipality explained that
the rezoning had been made possible when the Tourism Ministry decided not to
have a hotel built in that part of the capital.
A Tourism Ministry
spokesman, however, told The Jerusalem Post that its agreement to change the
designation of the land from hotel to residential had actually come in 2004, at
the height of the second intifada, when nobody was building in that part of
Jerusalem due to the area’s instability.
“Now, at the moment, there is a
severe shortage of hotel rooms in Israel. If we want to meet the ministry’s
objective of five million tourists by 2015, there’s a shortage of 19,000 hotel
rooms,” the spokesman said.
“Today, the situation is completely different
[than it was in 2004], and the Tourism Ministry is doing everything it can to
ensure that land destined for hotel use remains as such,” he said.
Palestinian Authority on Monday condemned the approval of 130 housing units in
Gilo, which it described as an “illegal Jewish settlement in
“It seems that Israel has begun its annual tradition of
‘Christmas gifts’ to the people of Bethlehem,” chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat
He said last year’s “gift” was the expansion of Har Homa, which he
said was also built on Bethlehem’s land.
“Apparently, every December,
Israel pushes on its agenda to further isolate Bethlehem from occupied east
Jerusalem,” Erekat said.
He stressed that the Palestinians did not
recognize Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem and that all Jewish
neighborhoods built there after 1967 were illegal.
law there is no difference between Jerusalem, Tulkarm and Gaza City; all of them
are part of the occupied Palestinian territory,” he said.
Israeli activity in this area is part of its settlement enterprise.”
said Gilo and other “incorrectly termed neighborhoods represent an
threat to the two-state solution, as it is part of a ring of illegal
settlements that severs east Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied
West Bank, and in particular from Bethlehem.”
Gilo was built on land
confiscated from Beit Jala, Sharafat and Beit Safafa, Erekat said.
considered illegal by the international community, including the United Nations
and the European Union,” he said. “Like all other Israeli settlements, it
constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal