Israel: No construction in “heart of Jerusalem”

Washington, September 30 – Gilo, a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, is “in the very heart of Jerusalem, only about a 5 minute drive from the very center of town” Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Wednesday (Sept. 28) .

His comments came in response to concerns that new municipal planning represents “settlement building” despite the fact that no new construction has been undertaken. Rather, new housing units in the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo are being discussed by the municipality of Jerusalem, and more than 50 days remain for comment and debate on any decisions to proceed.

"In every peace plan that has been put on the table over the last 18 years, Gilo remains an integral part of Jewish Jerusalem.,” Regev added. “There is no contradiction between this decision, which is only a planning decision, and the government's pursuit of peace through the principle of two states for two peoples."

Israel has repeatedly expressed the desire to negotiate with the Palestinians over this and many other issues that will need to be discussed in any final pact to end the conflict.

In a recent speech to the United Nations following a Palestinian bid to circumvent negotiations with Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his desire to negotiate with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas without delay and with no preconditions: “Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today, in the United Nations. Who’s there to stop us? What is there to stop us?”

“Let’s listen to one another. I’ll tell you my concerns. You’ll tell me yours, and with God’s help we’ll find a common ground for peace. I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you,” Netanyahu said.

President Obama has repeatedly expressed U.S. opposition to Palestinian unilateral efforts to circumvent the peace process.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a recent interview that “this [Palestinian unilateral bid for statehood] is very important to the United States of America and that any nation that votes against Israel and against the United States in the vote in the United Nations will recognize that America will very carefully reconsider our relationship with that nation.”

“People have to recognize that we’re nice but we’re not crazy. And when people oppose us, we’re not going to reward them for doing so,” Romney added.

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