Daily Israel Report

EU Condemns Gilo Housing, Israel Shoots Back

Minister Saar: "Our right to build in Jerusalem is no lesser than the right of the British to build in London."
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/20/2012, 7:31 PM

Gilo construction (file)
Gilo construction (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israel's Education minister called the European Union "irrelevant" Saturday evening, after the EU issued a statement condemning the approval of 800 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. 

The EU's foreign policy chief on Thursday criticized Israel's plan to build hundreds of homes in eastern Jerusalem and called for it to hold fresh talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Ashton said that she "deeply regrets" the Israeli interior ministry decision to back the expansion of the Gilo neighborhood by 797 units, said a statement from her office.

"Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible," said the statement, which repeated the EU's call for an end to Jewish communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

Talks "continue to represent the best way forward in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," it added. "Continuous expansion of settlements makes this all the more difficult."

Education Minister Gideon Saar shot back at Ashton's statement Saturday evening, calling it "strange" that "while the Middle East burns, tens of thousands are murdered in Syria, and Iran continues to work toward nuclear weapons, the thing that worries the European Union is construction in eastern Jerusalem."

"These kinds of statements cause the EU to be irrelevant to what happens in the Middle East," the Likud minister said.

"Our right to Jerusalem is no lesser than the right of the British to London or that of the French to Paris, and that is an understatement. Our right to build in Jerusalem is no lesser than the right of the British to build in London, or that of the French to build in Paris," Saar added.

"There are no sections to Jerusalem. There is one Jerusalem, under Israeli sovereignty, and we will continue to build in it."