Gilo Residents Furious at Condemnation Over Construction
The chairman of the community administration in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, Moshe Ben Shushan, expressed his disbelief on Sunday over the worldwide condemnation of the Israeli decision to build 1,100 new homes in his neighborhood.
“It makes all the residents here angry that the world intervenes,” Ben Shushan told Arutz Sheva. “I do not know of any other country that has to suffer someone's intervention when it builds. This is not the first time that the world has intervened in our plans to build.”
He added that “It is our right to build, it’s our right that our children have a place to live. In what country is someone prevented from building? We are in the heart of Jerusalem, and there is no impediment to building as much as possible and as needed here. There’s a housing crisis in the Gilo neighborhood just like there is in any other city in Israel.”
The plan to build in Gilo, which was approved by the Interior Ministry last Tuesday, will see 20 percent of the units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood allotted for young couples.
It will be subject to 60 days of public debate before final approval from Jerusalem municipal authorities, and also includes the construction of a promenade, public structures, and a commercial center.
The plan was met with criticism by U.S. and European Union officials, with the U.S. saying the move was “deeply disappointing” and “counterproductive.”
Top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton said that the plan “should be reversed. Settlement activity threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution and runs contrary to the Israeli-stated commitment to resume negotiations.”
The Palestinian Authority also railed against the approval, saying the new construction project is “a unilateral move by Israel that undermines Palestinian efforts to build a state with East Jerusalem as its capital" and "an obstacle to the peace process.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the condemnations, saying that “Gilo isn’t a settlement, but a Jerusalem neighborhood, 5 minutes away from the city center. All Israeli governments have built there.”
On Sunday it was reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was furious at the decision to build in Gilo, and told Netanyahu in a phone conversation that the move proves that he is not serious in his intentions to renew peace negotiations with the PA.
Ben Shushan told Arutz Sheva that is it outrageous that Germany dares to condemn the State of Israel for building homes.
“Anyone who condemns the construction is infuriating, but especially if it's Germany because Israel has suffered enough at their hands,” he said. “They are the last ones who should condemn Israel."
“I hope that the Israeli government and the Jerusalem Municipality will continue to build in Gilo, and on the other hand Israel should continue its advocacy to prove that Gilo is no settlement but a large-scale neighborhood in an Israeli city,” Ben Shushan concluded.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Beitenu) took foreign journalists to see the building site, which is situated in the well populated southern Jerusalem neighborhood.