Jerusalem’s Gilo Neighborhood Up in Arms over De Facto Freeze
Gilo neighborhood officials are up in arms over Jerusalem’s decision to slap a de facto freeze on a new building project because of “political considerations.”
Moshe Ben Sasson, Gilo community liaison with the municipality of Jerusalem, said the postponement of the project for 130 new housing units is unreasonable and discriminatory, while neighboring Arabs build without interruption.
A Jerusalem committee removed from its agenda a discussion on the project in order to prevent another crisis between Israel and the Obama administration while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trying to sell the idea of a new building freeze in Judea and Samaria.
The Palestinian Authority insists the proposed freeze must include the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo, Pisgat Zev, Ramot and all other areas of the capital restored to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
Approval for building already has been granted, based on the original plans of a hotel, but the developer now wants to build apartments instead.
Discussion of a second project involving hundreds of units also was postponed last week prior to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s departure for talks with Secretary Clinton and other officials in Washington.
Officially, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is the capital of Israel,” but Ben Sasson sees the postponement of the project as a de facto freeze.
“I am surprised at this decision” by Jerusalem, he said. “With all due respect to the American government and its decisions, it is not reasonable that a neighborhood such as Gilo, which needs new housing for young couples, should see building being stopped.
“At the same time, our Arab neighbors build without interference, and they enjoy the municipal services of Gilo.”