Palestinians express dismay as Israel advances a highly-controversial plan to link the western part of the occupied city of Jerusalem to its eastern part, which they want as the capital of their future state.
Slated for inauguration in 2021, the transportation system is planned to shuttle some 3,000 people per hour from a former railway station in western Jerusalem to the eastern Old City .
“The Israeli cable car project is an obscene violation of the cultural, historical, spiritual, geographic & demographic character of Jerusalem,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), tweeted on Thursday.
Besides peeking right into the part of the city, which is endeared by the Palestinians due to its housing the al-Aqsa Mosques compound — Islam’s holiest site –, the cable car would be passing by major Palestinian parts in the city, thus ignoring a good part of its demography. The $63-milloin plan, however, moved forward this week when a special committee headed by Israel’s finance minister gave it the green light.
“The foundations of the project will be built on our land,” said Khaled al-Zeer, a Palestinian from Silwan, neighborhood in East Jerusalem, AFP reported. “(It) will give the impression that it is a Jewish city and remove the Palestinian heritage from it,” he added.
Yotanan Mizrachi, an Israeli archaeologist opposing the plan, called it a “political project” that will cause “irreversible damage to the historic city.” “(It is) going to influence the way we see and understand the archaeology and the antiquity” of the city, he noted.
In 2015, France-based utility giant Suez Environnement said that because of political sensitivities, it had decided not to take part in the project.
“To avoid any political interpretation, Suez Environnement has decided not to take part in this project,” it said.
Israel captured the Palestinian territory of the West Bank in a war in 1967, and then annexed East Jerusalem. Ever since, Tel Aviv has continued to expand its illegal settlements and other projects in the area.
Tel Aviv’s attempts at manipulating the cultural and demographic configuration of the Palestinian territories comes while the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved a resolution in May 2015 that described the regime as an “occupying power” and rejected its sovereignty claims over all of Jerusalem.