Jerusalem light rail.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Plans to expand Jerusalem’s light rail will connect Israel’s capital with three West Bank settlements, including the city of Ma’aleh Adumim.
News of the plans come amid a campaign by politicians to sway the government and Knesset to annex the city that is home to over 37,000 people.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz said the issue was equity for all Israel’s citizens.
“I see Jerusalem and the greater area around it as one unit,” he told Channel 2, which broke the story.
“Those who live in Gush Etzion, in Binyamin, in Ma’aleh Adumim, in Beit Shemesh and in Mevaseret [Zion], must receive transportation services,” Katz said.
Although there are those who say “an artificial barrier” must be placed between those who live on one side of the Green Line and the other, he said, “We, of course, do not accept this.”
The Transportation Ministry provided The Jerusalem Post with a map of the new lines, which show five extensions. In addition to Ma’aleh Adumim, the train will reach the settlements of Givat Ze’ev and Geva Binyamin [Adam], both of which also are just outside of Jerusalem.
There also will be one new line that will reach Atarot, near the Kalandiya checkpoint leading into Ramallah.
The fifth line will connect Jerusalem with the nearby town of Mevaseret Zion.
The ministry said the plans are in their infancy and still have many bureaucratic hoops and hurdles to pass through before final approvals are given and work can begin.
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel said the plan would alleviate the increasing traffic jams at the checkpoint into Jerusalem, noting that the traffic is so bad during rush hour that a trip to Jerusalem that should take only 10 minutes can take as long as an hour.
Efrat Council head Oded Revivi called on Katz to add a sixth line to the plan and send the light rail in the direction of Gush Etzion, as well.
“Thousands of Gush Etzion residents are stuck in huge traffic jams on their way to work every morning. A light rail is the ultimate solution,” he said.