In the wake of international condemnation of Israeli construction in Gilo, Jerusalem, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon decided to give the foreign press a crash course in reality.
Ayalon brought journalists out to the scene of the construction, so they could see for themselves what an “east Jerusalem” neighborhood looks like. “You are here witnessing reality on the ground,” he told them.
Previous international leaders who attempted to make peace between Israel and the Arab world understood the need to recognize and respect reality, Ayalon reminded his audience.
The new construction is clearly within the natural growth area of the neighborhood, he pointed out, and is not an attempt to “leapfrog” over Arab areas in order to annex land. In addition, even a few minutes spent looking at a map would show that Gilo is in southern, not eastern Jerusalem. It was built on empty land, unpopulated and not owned, by Arabs.
It is hard for Israel to understand why the “natural growth of a vibrant city” has been made into an international issue, he noted, explaining, “Any responsible government doesn’t want their nation to live in tents… They have to build.”