Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman bluntly drew Israel's red line Sunday in a radio interview, saying “Jerusalem is not a settlement.”
Speaking on Army Radio, Lieberman was responding to criticism of an approval issued by the capital city last week for plans to build 797 housing units in the Gilo neighborhood.
The European Union last week slammed Israel for approving the project. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement through her office saying “Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.
"The EU has repeatedly urged the government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities in [Judea, Samaria and the parts of Jerusalem restored to the city during the 1967 Six Day War] in line with its obligations under the road map.”
In response, Lieberman said flatly, "Jerusalem is not a settlement. Gilo is a Jewish neighborhood. Today there are 32 to 33,000 Jews living there. It's an integral part of Jerusalem.”
The approval of the housing units came as a followup to an initial approval already issued by the Interior Ministry regional planning committee last June.
There are numerous steps involved in the process of obtaining approval for construction of housing projects in Israel, some involving a matter of years. Tenders must be issued through the Ministry of Housing and the Israel Lands Authority, and building permits must be generated from the City of Jerusalem as well.
The Palestinian Authority in any case has long abandoned any recognition the legitimacy of the Road Map peace plan proposed by former U.S. President George W. Bush. Nor did the PA ever manage to meet its obligations even under Stage I of the plan.