An illustration of the planned Jerusalem cable car.
(photo credit: JERUSALEM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY)
Despite vocal resistance from opposition groups, controversial plans to construct a tourist cable car to Jerusalem’s Old City have been approved by the National Infrastructure Committee.
The NIS 200 million project, advanced by the Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem Development Authority, will see a 1.5 km.-long cable car route stretching from Jerusalem’s First Station complex to a station near the Old City’s Dung Gate, close to the entrance to the Western Wall plaza, via Mount Zion.
“The plan offers a real solution to the problem of difficult access to the southeastern basin of the Old City,” the committee said in a statement on Monday after evaluating all objections. The cable car now requires government approval.
While the plan’s proponents, including Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, have cited the initiative as an important solution to improving access to the Old City and reducing dependence on public transportation amid increasing tourism, the project has met significant opposition from local residents, environmentalists, heritage groups and Palestinians.
Emek Shaveh, a nongovernmental organization aiming to defend cultural heritage assets and prevent the politicization of archaeological sites, has been one of the most vocal opponents to the plan, citing harm to Jerusalem’s landscape and architecture; the need to protect the historical character of the city; waste of public funds; and shifting traffic from the Old City to the First Station area.
“The explanation – that the need for a cable car is to remove the visual nuisance of the ‘wall of buses’ near the Old City walls – is a sham,” the organization said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the committee decided to hide behind walls of excuses instead of telling the truth as it is: the cable car will benefit the Ir David Foundation and therefore this destructive project has come into being. Our struggle is not over, and we will continue to fight for Jerusalem and against the plan – in court, too.”
The planned cable car, traveling at 21 kilometers per hour, will be capable of carrying 3,000 passengers in each direction every hour. In total, 73 carriages will be used to ferry passengers across Hinnom Valley.
“The approval of the plan by the National Infrastructure Committee, after hearing all the objections, is a significant milestone in advancing this important project,” the Jerusalem Development Authority said in a statement. “As part of the approach to developing the city, the cable car will enable a significant reduction in traffic congestion around the Old City, and increase accessibility to the area for residents, tourists and merchants alike.”