Today, the Israeli government announced that another 942 housing units had been approved for construction in Gilo, one of the largest illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. According to several newspapers, including Ha’aretz and the New York Times, the plan was approved by the Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee on Monday, April 4. Normally, follow-up votes can occur months after the committee approval; in this case, the vote has been scheduled for the next Tuesday.
This expedited schedule indicates a rush to approve and start construction on land claimed by Israeli settlers before Israelis and Palestinians achieve any substantive progress toward the establishment of Palestinian statehood. Many peace plans, such as the recently announced “Israeli Peace Initiative” (prepared in response to the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002) indicate that, in Jerusalem, “Jewish neighborhoods shall be under Israeli sovereignty; the Arab neighborhoods shall be under Palestinian sovereignty.”