Jerusalem (Reuters) – 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.
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.
“This is a strategic project to promote tourism to Jerusalem’s Old City,” said Israel’s Jerusalem and Heritage Minister Zeev Elkin. Israeli officials say it will also serve Palestinian residents of the city.
But Palestinians say its planned route would place cable cars just metres 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 Israeli cable car project is an obscene violation of the cultural, historical, spiritual, geographic & demographic character of Jerusalem,” Ashrawi said via Twitter.