State slams approval of construction approvals in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jerusalem planning committee approved the construction of nearly 200 housing units in a Jerusalem neighborhood located over the Green Line.

When asked about Wednesday’s approval of the 181 homes in Gilo, a Jerusalem suburb with a population of 40,000 located in eastern Jerusalem, a State Department spokesman condemned it as “corrosive to the cause of peace” and called it a “steady and systemic acceleration of Israeli settlement activity.”

The housing units were initially approved in 2012, some of the hundreds of housing units approved in the growing suburb in recent years, and are therefore not new. Wednesday’s approval was to iron out the “technical details” of building permits, according to reports.

“We’re deeply concerned by those reports that the local planning and construction committee in Jerusalem approved permits for, as you said, 181 housing units and five community center infrastructure projects in Gilo, which is in East Jerusalem. Our policy on settlements, as I said before, is very clear. We strongly oppose settlement activity, which we believe is corrosive to the cause of peace,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday.


“These decisions by Israeli authorities are just the latest examples of what appear to be a steady and systemic acceleration of Israeli settlement activity,” Kirby said. .”These actions risk entrenching a one-state reality and raise serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”

When asked by a reporter if there was any practical impact to the United States’ objection to the plans, Kirby retreated, saying the administration is having “internal discussions” on the issue that he could not disclose.

“What I would just say is right now we are focused on encouraging all sides to demonstrate with policies and actions a genuine commitment to a two-state solution. I think I’ll leave it at that.”