Israeli Government Approves Construction in Gilo

This week an Israeli planning committee approved Plan 13261, Mordot Gilo – South (aka “Gilo Slopes”) – a plan for large-scale settlement construction in East Jerusalem, adjacent to the settlement of Gilo.

Israeli officials claim that Gilo is “not a settlement”.

Some Facts on Gilo:

Gilo is a settlement: The term “settlement” is not a subjective term implying a judgment over whether Israel may/will perhaps retain a given area under a peace agreement.  The term “settlement” is a technical term referring to Israeli construction located east of the 1967 lines.  It is understandable why Israeli officials (and others) might prefer to call Gilo and other large Israeli built-up areas located across the 1967 lines “neighborhoods” rather than “settlements.” By doing so, they hope to get everyone else on board with the view that the 1967 lines will not be the basis of negotiations in Jerusalem.

Gilo is expanding (out, not up or inside): The newly approved construction will be located entirely beyond the built-up area of the settlement of Gilo, expanding the footprint of this already massive settlement to the southwest, toward Beit Jala and the beleaguered village of Wallaja.  It will make the delineation of any future border, and the establishment of any future Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, much more difficult.

This Gilo plan is just the start: The newly-approved plan dovetails with another plan, Plan 13157, which is awaiting approval for deposit for public review.  Like the newly approved plan, Plan 13157 will further expand Gilo beyond its existing footprint in the direction of the West Bank.  And the two plans dovetail with another pending plan for a brand-new settlement, to be called Givat Yael which would straddle the West Bank-Jerusalem border and significantly extend Israeli Jerusalem to the south, further sealing Jerusalem off from the Bethlehem area and the West Bank (and connecting it to the Etzion settlement bloc), and further complicating future border arrangements and the prospects for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

This latest development was viewed by Palestinians, understandably and predictably, as further demonstration of Netanyahu’s lack of interest in real negotiations and a two-state, conflict-ending solution to the conflict.