Israel’s Supreme Court rejected four petitions on Sunday that sought to derail controversial plans to build a cable car to Jerusalem’s Old City, paving the way for the project to progress.
Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem, environmentalists, urban planners, archaeologists and a small community from the Jewish Karaite sect had all lodged protests with the court in recent years. They said the project would harm the holy city’s historic character, desecrate a Karaite cemetery, and impact the lives and businesses of local residents.
The proposed cable car is being advanced by Israel’s Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality as a transportation solution to the city’s traffic-snarled streets and poor accessibility to the ancient walled Old City. Critics have pointed out that a cable car is not a suitable transit solution and the massive steel towers supporting the cables will mar the historic landscape.
The route would start near the “First Station,” a renovated old railway station that’s now a popular pedestrian mall, and span the biblical Valley of Hinnom to Mount Zion and terminate at the Dung Gate, the entrance to the Old City closest to the Western Wall, 2 kilometres (1 mile) away.
It is further complicated by the fact that it will be constructed in east Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing in the 1967 Mideast war, but which the Palestinians seek as capital of a future state. Most of the international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over east Jerusalem.
In its decision, the court said any decision to relieve congestion around the Old City “even if it was decided not to do anything, would harm someone one way or another. There is no `perfect’ solution.”
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion wrote on Facebook that the cable car would get underway following the court ruling.
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