Communicated by the Deputy Foreign Minister’s Bureau, October 2, 2011:
On Sunday, 2 October, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon conducted a briefing for foreign correspondents in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Also present for the tour and briefing were representatives from the Jerusalem municipality, Deputy Mayor Naomi Tzur, and the Gilo Community Committee Manager.
DFM Ayalon told the journalists that Gilo is a neighborhood in Jerusalem and an integral part of the city. It is not clear why every new building and every local neighborhood expansion becomes a matter of international interest.
Standing at a strategic observation point in Gilo, Ayalon told the dozens of foreign journalists who joined the tour,
“The reality is that, in any future agreement, the Gilo neighborhood will be part of Jerusalem and part of the State of Israel – that has never been in dispute. We are talking about a neighborhood with 40,000 inhabitants who have needs. In order to ensure that all the residents will have a place to live, a responsible government has to make sure that houses continue to be built for the people.”
Responding to questions from the journalists, Ayalon said,
“Just as you don’t expect us to prohibit construction in predominately Arab areas, you shouldn’t expect us to prohibit construction in predominately Jewish areas.”
Ayalon added that the announcement concerning municipal building plans, in which is included the expansion of Gilo, was not timed for political effect, but is only concerned with meeting the needs of the thousands of residents. “The Palestinians use construction and the Green Line as an excuse to distract world opinion and the parties from the central issue, which is negotiations,” Ayalon said.
Dep.FM Ayalon referred to Israel’s agreement to the Quartet proposal: “The Palestinians continue systematically to pile up difficulties and preconditions to the negotiations, which only decrease the chances for a genuine solution to the issues. It’s time to put an end to that.”
At the end of the briefing, Ayalon summed up Israel’s position: “We do not intend to stop building in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was and will always remain Israel’s eternal and indivisible capital.”