(JNS.org) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the European Union’s condemnation of Israel’s plan to build 800 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo by affiriming that the Jewish state would not “impose any restrictions on housing projects in our capital.”
Gilo is located beyoned the 1949 Green Line in the southern portion of eastern Jerusalem, and was land won by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Some 40,000 Jews live there. On Oct. 19, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she “deeply regrets” Israel’s plans to construct new housing there.
“Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible,” she said.
Netanyahu, however, explained the following Sunday: “Just as [they] build in London, Paris, Washington and Moscow, we build in Jerusalem, and our bond with our capital is as ancient and as powerful [as other countries' ties to their own capitals].”
Last year, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel said plans to build additional housing units in Gilo cast doubt on Israel’s willingness to seek peace, Netanyahu responded that Gilo “is not a settlement.”
“It’s a neighborhood in Jerusalem that is only a few minutes’ drive from my home and my office in central Jerusalem,” he said at the time. “I will not accept any demand to stop building in Jerusalem. We have always built there and will continue to do so.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the EU inappropriately interfered with Israel’s domestic affairs by condemning building in Gilo.