Jerusalem Municipal "Approval" of Mordot Gilo Plan
On July 4, 2011, it was reported that the Jerusalem Municipality approved Plan 13157, for the construction of 850- 900 new units in an area adjacent to the settlement of Gilo. For a map designating the location of the Plan, click here. What actually happened was something much less significant, non-binding step – in effect preliminary discussion/decision by the Municipality to support the plan when it comes up next before the Regional Planning Committee (on which the municipality is represented). Given that the Jerusalem Municipality’s planning committee had previously approved the plan, the fact that the Municipality would now support it as the regional committee is certainly no surprise. The next major step in the plan will be its consideration by the Regional Planning Committee – something that could come at any time, given that the 60-day public review period has already ended. As yet, it is not on that committee’s agenda. Such consideration will be the last step before the plan is signed into law and permits can be issued.
This is the same Gilo plan that we reported recently (click here), when we noted that this is one of the plans that Prime Minister Netanyahu had determined would be “fast-tracked” for approval. As we noted, this is the Gilo expansion plan that was in the headlines in November 2009, when, at almost exactly the same time that then-Special Envoy Mitchell was in London to meet with Netanyahu’s top advisor Yitzhak Molcho, the Regional Planning Committee decided to move forward with approval of the plan (despite a U.S. request to desist). The planned units are, in their entirety, to be located beyond the built-up area of the settlement of Gilo, expanding the footprint of this already massive settlement to the southwest, toward the beleaguered Palestinian village of Wallajeh (where residents are fighting Israeli demolitions orders against many of their homes, as well as facing near-total isolation due to the route of the barrier through their lands). It should also be emphasized that Plan 13157 dovetails with plans for a 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 the city off from the Bethlehem area and the West Bank (and connecting it to the Etzion settlement bloc). For more background, see here.
The Palestinians have strongly condemned the approval. The U.S., thus far, has been silent on the issue (in contrast to its response in 2009).