Why the Rush to Cable Cars? Israel, Politics and Finance

Israel’s Housing Cabinet Green Lights Controversial Jerusalem Old City Cable Car Plan

The plan, which was rejected by environmentalists, architects and local Palestinians, has long been disputed by critics who say a transition government shouldn’t approve it

Illustration of the cable car crossing over the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Illustration of the cable car crossing over the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Israel’s Housing Cabinet approved on Monday the controversial construction plan of a cable car to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The decision to green light the project came despite an urgent inquiry sent several days ago by the plan’s opponents to Attorney General Avichai Mendelbit in which they argued that a project of such importance cannot be approved by a transition government.

Last week, Mendelblit’s aides replied that the matter is being looked into, but in the meantime the Housing Cabinet approved the plan, which still needs to undergo a procedural approval by the government. The plan’s opponents intend to petition the High Court of Justice against it.

The plan has drawn widespread opposition from architects, local Palestinian residents and environmentalists who criticized the expected damage to the historic landscape of the Old City. In addition, critics say the cable car won’t solve the area’s transportation and access problems.

Nevertheless, the plan was fast-tracked by the National Infrastructure Committee and promoted by the Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem Development Authority.

According to those objecting to the plan, the cabel car project was promoted by the National Infrastructure Committee and not by the District Planning Committee in order to more easily fend off objections to the plan.

The 1.4-kilometer cable car line will begin at the First Station compound, passing over the neighborhoods of Abu Tor and the Valley of Hinnom, then through the Mount Zion parking lot and from there to its last stop, the Kedem visitor center in the Silwan neighborhood. From the Kedem center, visitors will proceed on foot to the Western Wall.

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