An Israeli plan to run a cable car over Jerusalem to the walls of the Old City has angered Palestinians who say it would erase their heritage in areas they seek for a future state, Reuters reports.
The proposed cable car would shuttle some 3,000 tourists and worshippers per hour from Jerusalem’s western part to the eastern Old City in a four-minute ride. The plan moved forward this week when a special committee headed by Israel’s finance minister gave it a green light.
The government says the roughly 220 million shekel ($63 million) scheme will alleviate heavy traffic to the area, which packs out with tourists and residents visiting its many Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religious sites.
But Palestinians say its planned route would place cable cars just meters above their homes in East Jerusalem and stir frictions over the future of a city at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), termed the plan illegal.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which includes the walled Old City, as the capital of a future state. Israel annexed the area after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East war and says the entire city is its eternal and indivisible capital.
The cable car project, intended to be ready for 2021, must still win final government approval.
But Palestinians in Silwan, an East Jerusalem neighborhood at the foot of the Old City, said it would encourage tourists to bypass them on the way to holy sites.
(It) will give the impression that it is a Jewish city and remove the Palestinian heritage from it, Silwan resident Khaled Al-Zeer said, adding that the foundations of the project will be built on our land.
Yotanan Mizrachi, an archaeologist who heads the Israeli NGO Emek Shaveh, is part of a coalition that opposes the cable car on grounds that it is a political project that will cause irreversible damage to the historic city.
Source: Palestine Chronicle