City Hall Backs Plan for Thousands of New Housing Units in East Jerusalem

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A construction site in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, 2009.
A construction site in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, 2009.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

A plan to build thousands of new housing units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo is being advanced by private developers with the blessing of the Jerusalem municipality.

The plan, currently in its initial stages, includes the construction of some 2,500 housing units in the area east of Gilo, near Route 60, located at the southern part of the capital, not for from the Palestinian town of Beit Jala.

The plan, first reported Monday by the Israeli outlet Walla News, covers an area of some 200 dunam (50 acres). Most of the designated land is under private ownership, and some 30 percent belongs to Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948.

The project would be built on the south-eastern edge of Gilo, a neighborhood located beyond the 1997 Green Line.Credit: Haaretz

The plan is being advanced by the developer Nehemiah Davidi and architect David Guggenheim, who plan to put forth a master plan for the area, and then, pending its authorization, outline the actual details of the new neighborhood in Gilo.

Such a large-scale project will undoubtedly face difficulties, especially due to American opposition to Israeli construction beyond the Green Line, the pre-1967 borders of Israel. Only recently, a similar construction plan, dubbed South Gilo Terraces, was delayed due to political pressure on Jerusalem's Planning Committee not to authorize the construction.

"I believe it will work," said Ofer Ayoub, who heads Gilo's community administration. "I don't see Gilo as being beyond the Green Line and it is mistaken to treat it this way. Gilo is an inseparable part for Jerusalem, these delays will only cause housing prices to raise."

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