JERUSALEM (EJP)---Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that Israel will continue construction in Jerusalem in the same way that the international community builds in their own individual capitals.
"We place no limits on construction in our capital city," he declared in response to international criticism of a plan to build 797 homes in Gilo.
"Just as they build in London, Paris, Washington and Moscow, we will continue to build in Jerusalem,” he said.
On Friday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s spokesperson said she « deeply regrets » Israel’s continued expansion of the Gilo settlement. »
“Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a twostate solution impossible. The EU has repeatedly urged the government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities in the West Bank, including in east Jerusalem, in line with its obligations under the road map,” she said in a stateemnt.
But Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected the EU’s condemnation, saying it "harms the peace process and ignores the fact that the unified city is Israel’s capital."
“The Gilo neighborhood is an inseparable part of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem is an inseparable part of Israel,” the foreign minister said.
“These automatic condemnations indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the reality of the region,” Lieberman said. “These condemnations do not contribute anything to the advancement of talks between Israelis and Palestinians. They only encourage the Palestinians to continue to refuse to participate in negotiations and to continue their anti-Israeli activity in the international arena.”
Those who want to help the sides to reach a final-status agreement should work to stop the Palestinians from this antiIsraeli activity, said Liberman, rather than condemning construction for peaceful civilians that harms no one.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said on Saturday, “Gilo is an inseparable part of Jerusalem and we are not going to apologize for that. We will continue to build tens of thousands of apartments across the entire city for all sectors. The only way to lower the price of apartments is to continue building without stopping, as we are now doing in order to allow young people to live in Jerusalem and build themselves a future.”
Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said, “It’s strange that at a time when the Middle East is burning, thousands of Syrian civilians are being killed, Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, the thing that worries the EU is construction in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood.”
It shows how “irrelevant” the EU is when it comes to matters in this region, he said.
Britain and France have joined Ashton in condemning the Gilo construction plan.
Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt declared : “It is deeply worrying that despite repeatedly raising our concerns, Israel continues to press ahead with plans to expand them. »
He added that “this move is contrary to Israel’s stated commitments to both the two-state solution and to upholding international law. We urge Israel to reverse this decision and take no further steps to expand settlements.”