The approval was the latest in a long line of settlement approvals in recent months that would see more than a thousand new settler units constructed on occupied Palestinian land. The statement reiterated Spain’s disapproval of Israel’s settlement expansions, and “like the rest of the international community, it considers Israeli settlements on Palestinian Occupied Territories to be illegal under international law.”
“The government also argues that these illegal settlements are an obstacle to the viability of a two-State solution, and accordingly, to peace, as set out in the report by the Middle East Quartet issued back in June,” the statement continued. The Spanish government also urged Israeli authorities to overturn their most recent settlement approvals.
After the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee approved the new settler housing units Wednesday, United States Department spokesperson John Kirby quickly condemned the decision that evening, reiterating the United States’ disapproval of Israel’s settlement expansions, saying that Israel’s actions “risk entrenching a one-state reality.”
Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that the construction at Gilo was delayed for several months after beginning more than a year ago after several “ancient graves” were discovered at the site. Israeli ultra-orthodox Jews had demanded that the construction cease. The settlement expansion plans were renewed after more funds were invested into the project, and the expansion was rerouted away from the “ancient graves,” according to Haaretz, and will now stretch into the Cremisan Valley, which separates the settlement from the Palestinian village of al-Walaja, which is surrounded by Gilo and the neighboring Har Gilo settlement.
At least 30,000 Israelis reside in the Gilo settlement in contravention to international law, while some 1,300 reside in Har Gilo. Israeli authorities had construction tenders for 89 units in Gilo, when tenders were also opened in Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Zeev, and Har Homa.