Meretz' Alalo. 'We won't let them'
Photo: Aner Green

Jerusalem advancing Gilo homes

On eve of President Peres' meeting with US President Obama, District Planning and Construction Committee expected to approve 942 housing units in neighborhood located beyond Green Line

The Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee will convene Monday to discuss the construction of 942 housing units on the southern slopes of the Gilo neighborhood, located beyond the Green Line. The discussion will be held just before President Shimon Peres' meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington.


The committee discussion is being held at a very sensitive time for Israel, especially in light of the growing criticism among the international community over the government's failure to advance a peace initiative and find a breakthrough which would revive negotiations with the Palestinians.


In addition, as far as the international community is concerned, the Gilo neighborhood is controversial and expanding it is considered "creating facts on the ground" before reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.


A previous approval of 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel created a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.


Construction in Gilo. 'Thwarting chance for peace' (Photo: AP)


During Monday's discussion, the committee members are expected to okay a plan to built 942 additional housing units and hand it over to the Interior Ministry's Planning and Construction Committee for approval.


As part of the plan, the Gilo neighborhood will be expanded eastward and southward, to the end of the Jerusalem Municipality's jurisdiction.


According to the documents submitted to the committee, one of the plan's goals is to "strengthen Gilo's eastern ties by connecting it to Road 60 in the southeast. On the West, the plan offers a connection through 'forest roads', which also allow the residents to enjoy the western and northern green areas."


'Road of conflict'

According to the plans, the new buildings are expected to stretch over some 88,000 square meters (947,220 square feet) – 1,000 square mters for commercial purposes, 20,000 for public buildings and 3,500 for recreation and sports purposes. The plan also includes a clause allowing the addition of some 300 housing units in the future.


"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mayor Nir Barkat have decided to adopt a road of conflict rather than a road of agreements and understandings," said one of the committee members and head of the Meretz faction, Yosef "Pepe" Alalo.


"Unfortunately," he said, "they trust the fact that the world is busy creating revolutions in the Middle East and think this is the right time to approve 900 housing units without the world responding. They don't understand that the world and we won't let them continue creating unilateral facts which thwart the chance to reach an agreement. Today, more than ever, is the time to launch a dialogue with the Palestinians."


The Jerusalem Municipality said in response, "The plan discusses privately-owned land. The private owners are seeking to advance construction in the area according to the mater plan and in accordance with the law.


"Jerusalem was united more than 40 years ago, and since then there has been no change in the building policy. The municipality continues to advance construction for Arabs and Jews as one according to the overall plan."


The municipality added that "new construction in Jerusalem is necessary for the city's development and for allowing young people and students live in the city and buy an apartment. It's important to note that the district committee is obligated to discuss any plan submitted according to professional criteria only, without religious racial and sexual discrimination."



פרסום ראשון: 04.03.11, 13:15
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