Gilo residents angered by US criticism of building plans
Residents of Gilo on Wednesday reacted with surprise and anger to news that the US administration was dismayed by a government decision to approve 900 new homes in their neighborhood, questioning the relevance of the criticism while denouncing it unequivocally.
"It's just so ridiculous," said Silva, as she walked outside her home on the neighborhood's Rehov Shabtai Hanegbi.
"Anyone who is opposed to us building in Gilo obviously doesn't know the neighborhood very well. There are more than 40,000 people living here - it could very well be a city within itself. I never even thought that Gilo was up for discussion."
Others reacted with similar surprise, but also frustration at what they said was misguided American policy in an area considered by a wide consensus of Israelis to be just another Jerusalem neighborhood.
Obama's press on Gilo shows a continued misread of Israel
US President Barack Obama is an extremely intelligent man surrounded by equally intelligent advisers, many of whom have years of experience dealing with the Middle East. His continued misreading and misunderstanding of the Israeli public is, therefore, somewhat baffling.
This misread was evident again in the past few days by the US objection to the Jerusalem Municipal Planning Committee's approval of a plan to build some 900 new units in Gilo - not in a far-flung settlement overlooking Nablus, nor even in one of the settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, nor even a Jewish complex in one of the Arab neighborhoods of the capital, but in Gilo, one of the large new neighborhoods built in the city following the Six Day War. If Israel cannot build in Gilo without US approval, than it cannot build in Ramot Eshkol, French Hill, Ramot, Neveh Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev, East Talpiot or Har Homa.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Tuesday expressed "dismay" at the decision. The dismay, however, cuts both ways, with many Israelis clearly dismayed that the US - like Europe - now seems to be considering as settlements the post-1967 neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The EU, clearly following Gibbs's lead and then taking it one step further, released a statement on Wednesday saying, "The European Union is dismayed by the recent decision on the expansion of the settlement of Gilo."
Truth be told, this is not the first indication of US policy on this matter. Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice seemed to be giving the new neighborhoods settlement status in 2007 when she opposed a new project in Har Homa. She didn't clarify, however, whether other Jerusalem neighborhoods over the Green Line, such as Gilo and Ramot, were settlements in the eyes of the United States.
Where does it end? Gilo a settlement? East Jerusalem? That's absurd. Its an integral part of Jerusalem and geographically located at south western side of Jerusalem. It doesn't infringe on any Arab neighborhood (where there's anti-Jewish apartheid). But back to my point - where does it end? If Obama and the rest of the world
Democrats - be ashamed of yourselves. You've broken a new low.