A plan for 8,000 new housing units in the Yerushalayim neighborhood of Gilo was quietly shelved at the last minute this week, just as a much smaller, 200-home project in Ramot drew condemnations from the U.S. and France on Thursday.
Officials in the municipality of Yerushalayim denied that the Gilo decision was due to alleged pressure from Washington, but rather a need to make additional clarifications in the plans. The Gilo project, scheduled for approval by the same committee which passed on Ramot on Wednesday, was dropped from the agenda without prior notice.
France called on Israel to “immediately” reverse its decision on Ramot.
“The decision by the Israeli authorities approving the construction of 200 new homes in Ramot again directly threatens a two-state solution,” French Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said.
“We call Israel to immediately go back on this decision at a time when everything should be done to stop the escalation [in violence] and relaunch the peace process,” Nadal said in an unusually strong statement.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the U.S. was “deeply concerned” about the decision, which she said impeded attempts to reach a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.