Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Israelís planned cable car over Jerusalem angers Palestinians

By Yehudit Tzfat - November 14, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jerusalem]

An Israeli plan to build a cable car system over Jerusalem leading to the Western Wall has sparked outrage among Palestinians who say it is erasing their heritage.

The Israeli housing cabinet approved a controversial plan to install a cable car over the Old City last week. The cable car will be able to transport 3,000 people an hour in a four-minute ride from West Jerusalem to the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem. 

The Israeli government touted the roughly NIS 220 million ($63 million) plan as a way to reduce traffic congestion in the popular destination for tourists and worshippers. 


"This is a strategic project to promote tourism in the Old City. Step by step, we are transforming a vision into a new reality," Israel’s Jerusalem and Heritage Minister Zeev Elkin said. 

But Palestinians reject the plan, saying it will put a cable car above their homes in East Jerusalem and drive a wedge into the future of the city at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, but Israel annexed the area after the 1967 war and claims all of Jerusalem as its capital. 

Dr Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation Executive Committee, denounced the proposed cable car on Twitter, calling it “an obscene violation of the cultural, historical, spiritual, geographic & demographic character of Jerusalem.”

“It is also an illegal assault on the occupied Palestinian city & its people who have been living there for centuries,” she added.

Palestinians in the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem believe the cable car project will erase their identity in the city. 

“[It] will give the impression that it is a Jewish city and remove the Palestinian heritage from it,” Silwan resident Khaled Al-Zeer told Reuters.

Emek Shaveh, an Israeli non-governmental organisation working to defend cultural heritage rights, alleged the cable car route "serves a highly political agenda” and will damage the historical foundation of the city. 

It also argues a transitional government should not be permitted to approve projects “with such significant political implications for Jerusalem”, and claims it was “fast-tracked” through the traditional government channels. The NGO is planning to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

“The appeal to the High Court is intended to prevent the destructive impact that a cable car will have on the Old City landscape and on the fragile political situation in Jerusalem,” Emek Shaveh said in a statement

The cable car network is set to be ready by 2021, but it still needs to receive final government approval before construction can begin.

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