The Interior Ministry’s Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee gave a “final approval for some 1,200 apartments in the Gilo neighborhood in Jerusalem. The plan includes 930 apartments for immediate construction and around 300 that could be built at a later time,” the Jerusalem Post reported. The Gilo neighborhood is located across from an Arab village that was once a location from which terrorists used to attack Jerusalem residents during the Second Intifada. However, since the separation barrier was built, it has been impossible for Arab gunfire to penetrate into Gilo.

This latest wave of approvals in Gilo comes as Israel already gave the green light to 5,500 additional homes to be built over the green line. The largest project that has been approved so far since the unilateral PA bid at the UN came to its conclusion was the Jerusalem Local Planning and Construction Committee’s final approval for 2,610 apartments in Givat Hamatos, which is the first completely new Jewish neighborhood over the Green Line since 1997.

As international opposition to Israel’s construction plans continues to mount, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remains persistent in constructing Jewish homes in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, “With God’s help we will continue to live and build in Jerusalem, which will continue to stand undivided under Israeli sovereignty. Over the past few years we’ve done a lot to empower the settlements and will continue to do so.” Avigdor Lieberman also stated, “We have one dispute with the global community. This dispute is about the construction in Jerusalem and in the settlement blocks. This is why we need a united and strong government that can withstand the pressure.”

Also this week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave the order to accredit Ariel University of Samaria as a full-fledged university. Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein stated that nothing stood in the way of making Ariel University Center a university. While the Israeli government had recognized Ariel University of Samaria as an accredited university last September, the government needed the attorney-general’s approval before proceeding with the accreditation process.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar stated that this decision brought one of the “biggest campaigns I have led” to completion, and that “despite countless irrelevant objections, this [decision] sends an important message to the academic community as a whole.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “After many decades, the State of Israel finally has another university. This is a big day for higher education in Israel.” Likud-Yisrael Beytenu Coalition Chairman MK Zeev Elkin called the ruling a “righteous decision that sends a clear message that Ariel will forever stay part of Israel.”

By Rachel Avraham