The Jerusalem District Planning Committee is set to approve 1,100 new housing units in Jerusalem's contested Gilo neighborhood on Tuesday, despite past U.S. objections concerning any construction that expanded Gilo further across the Green Line.
The plan was submitted by a subsidiary to the Jewish National Fund, and must pass 60 days in which the public may oppose it before being finally approved by Jerusalem's planning authorities.
According to the proposal, 20 percent of the units in Jerusalem's southern neighborhood would be allotted for young couples, in compliance with a directive by Interior Minister Eli Yishai. The plan also includes the construction of a boardwalk, public structures, and a commercial center.
The announcement of the possible approval of construction in Gilo comes amid U.S. attempts to push Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiations table following a Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations. A key Palestinian condition ahead of resumed talks has been the complete freeze of all Israeli settlement construction.
In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, referring to a plan to expand construction in Gilo, said new Gilo homes could complicate efforts by his administration to relaunch peace talks and embitter the Palestinians.
Obama said at the time that additional settlement building doesn't make Israel safer. He said such moves make it harder to achieve peace in the region, and embitters the Palestinians in a dangerous way.
"The situation in the Middle East is very difficult, and I've said repeatedly and I'll say again, Israel's security is a vital national interest to the United States, and we will make sure they are secure," Obama said in the interview.
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