Gilo: an Israeli settlements thriving under the Israeli Occupation-Municipality of Jerusalem

Gilo: an Israeli settlements thriving under the Israeli Occupation-Municipality of Jerusalem

In the year 1970, the Israeli government confiscated 2,738 dunums from Beit Jala town, Beit Safafa, and Sharafat villages located at the northwestern side of Bethlehem District. The majority of these lands (41% – 1120 dunums) belong to families living in Beit Jala. In 1971, the Israeli bulldozers started to construct Gilo settlement, and since then Gilo has gone under an intensive urbanization process. Today, the area of this colony stands at 3700 dunums and has around 40,000 colonists.


The Israelis built the settlement on private Palestinian lands that the Israelis annexed to the illegally declared and new defined boundaries of the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem after the 1967 occupation. It was one of the first wave of settlements' constructed and is considered one of the biggest in the occupied West Bank territory. However, the Israeli government and the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem refer to Gilo and 17 other illegally built Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem as neighborhoods.


Map 1: Gilo Settlement


On 17/11/2009, the District Planning and Construction Committee of the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem gave approval to a plan to build some 900 new housing units in Gilo settlement. This declaration is one of many before it to expand the constantly growing settlement. Just prior (since January 2008) to this recent expansion plan of the 900 units, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem approved plans to add some 6570 housing units. See table 1


Table 1: Israeli proposed tenders for new housing units in Gilo settlement between January 2008 & March 2009

Settlement Name

No. of Housing Units

Date of Tender











Source: ARIJ Monthly Reports – 2008, 2009



The Gilo expansion plan/s comes as a part of a greater package to expand and fortify the Israeli settlements in and around occupied East Jerusalem. It is also a part of the Israeli message to the world and the Palestinians in particular saying that Jerusalem is not up for negotiations. However, Israel does realize that its actions are provoking Palestinians who went to the peace process from the beginning with an end goal to have East Jerusalem as a capital for the upcoming Palestinian state. This is something also realized by the peace process sponsors, the U.S and the Europeans. 


The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported that the 900 housing units in Gilo are only the very first step of the planned and approved project/s to stretch existing settlements and build another 4000 housing units in various locations in the West Bank settlement creating a chain of settlements to enfold Jerusalem governorate.


'The plan approved yesterday, known as the 'Western Slopes of Gilo' project, is the first stage of a much broader expansion of the southern Jerusalem neighborhood. The current expansion is in the direction of the Malha neighborhood. The full plan, which is already included in Jerusalem's master plan, will also expand the neighborhood southward.

In addition, plans exist for major construction in the area between Gilo and Har Homa and around the neighborhood of Givat Hamatos. Overall, plans are in various stages of approval for 4,000 housing units in Gilo and its environs. All of these units would be over the Green Line.  ' Haaretz ~ U.S. 'dismayed' at decision to okay 900 housing units in Gilo 

Map 2: Israeli settlements and the Segregation Wall  surrounding Jerusalem


To conclude:

Such moves can only be perceived as a devastating blow for the peace process, part of the 'De-Facto' policies that the consecutive Israeli governments adopting and carrying it out since the beginning of the Oslo peace agreements.


The methodically harmonized policies negatively affect the viability of the two state solutions, narrowing the chance of any development on the peace process, and devastating hopes for ending the conflict.


Furthermore, these long carried out Israeli policies are openly  substantiating the Israeli message to the international community and the civilized nations of the world, that Israel is not a country willing to work constructively and multilaterally toward brining regional peace. Indeed, Israeli actions contradict and undermine the efforts of international community to pursue peace in the region.


'We urge the Israeli side to take concrete measures to restore Palestine-Israel mutual trust and create favorable conditions for the early resumption of talks between them,' China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a regular briefing, echoing U.S. President Barack Obama's concern that the construction poses new obstacles to the Middle East peace process' Haaretz ~ China joins world condemnation of East Jerusalem building plan





[i] U.S. 'dismayed' at decision to okay 900 housing units in Gilo

[ii] China joins world condemnation of East Jerusalem building plan





Prepared by:
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem

Categories: Settlement Expansion