Ashton: New Gilo housing is 'an obstacle to peace'

EU foreign minister says she is "disappointed" in Israel for approving "illegal" construction in east Jerusalem.

Catherine Ashton (R) 311 (photo credit: 	 REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)
Catherine Ashton (R) 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)
EU Foreign Affairs Representative Catherine Ashton said on Wednesday that she is "disappointed" by the expansion of Gilo.
"I am deeply disappointed by the approval of 942 new housing units in the Israeli settlement of Gilo," Ashton said. "The EU is also closely following upcoming plans for settlements on the Mount Scopus Slopes, in Har Homa C and in Pisgat Ze'ev," all of which are neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

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The comments came one day after the UN and the US condemned the new building plans.
"These plans may further damage an already fragile political environment," she added. "I reiterate that the EU considers that settlement activities in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, are illegal under international law, undermine trust between the parties and constitute an obstacle to peace."
Ashton also said that "the actions taken by the Israeli government contravene repeated and urgent calls by the international community, including the Quartet, and run counter to achieving a peaceful solution that will preserve Israel's security and realize the Palestinians' right to statehood."
"If there is to be a genuine peace," she posited, "a way must be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states."
On Tuesday, the Jerusalem Local Building and Planning Committee gave initial approval to a plan for 942 homes in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, which is located across the 1967 Green Line.
“As a reminder, Jerusalem was united more than 40 years ago, and since then there has been no change in construction policy,” said a municipality spokeswoman. “The municipality is continuing to build for Arabs and Jews according to the Master Plan.”
The spokeswoman added that the Local Building and Planning Committee was also poised to approve dozens of houses in Arab neighborhoods, but would not specify how many or where the houses would be located.