Court asks state to justify construction of Jerusalem Old City cable car

The cable car plan has sparked International, Palestinian and domestic opposition due to its impact on both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the historical Old City's skyline.

 An artist’s simulation of the planned cable car to Jerusalem’s Old City. The King David Hotel can be seen on the left (photo credit: EMEK SHAVEH)
An artist’s simulation of the planned cable car to Jerusalem’s Old City. The King David Hotel can be seen on the left
(photo credit: EMEK SHAVEH)

The High Court of Justice has given the state 21-days to justify its construction of a cable car to Jerusalem's Old City.

The decision was issued Sunday, two days after Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli submitted a letter to the HCJ against the project. 

The cable car plan has sparked International, Palestinian and domestic opposition due to its impact on both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the historical Old City's skyline.

"The cable car has no significant transportation role, and the harm will exceed the benefits,” Michaeli said.

She added that "it is necessary to give adequate consideration to the harm to the landscape of the Old City Basin and to our precious heritage assets, as well as to the political and security implications of its advancement."

 TRANSPORTATION MINISTER Merav Michaeli arrives to attend the first weekly cabinet meeting of the new government, in Jerusalem in June (credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/REUTERS) TRANSPORTATION MINISTER Merav Michaeli arrives to attend the first weekly cabinet meeting of the new government, in Jerusalem in June (credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/REUTERS)

At a hearing on Sunday, an attorney for the project Moria Freedman reminded the HCJ that lower courts had supported the project as had numerous studies. Freedman noted that some 3,000 people an hour were expected to use the cable car to access the Old City. It's not feasible to transport that many people into the Old City with vehicles, including through shuttles, Freedman stated.

The left-wing NGO Emek Shaveh, which is one of the petitioners to the HCJ against the project said it welcomed Michaeli's statement against the project.  

"The transport minister has said what we have been saying all along: that the Jerusalem cable car project is not a transportation project and is not an answer to the traffic issues near the Old City," Emek Shaveh said. 

"We believe that its value for tourism has also been greatly misrepresented and although the plan is being advanced by the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Tourism Ministry it will primarily benefit a powerful interest group (the Elad Foundation) by transporting thousands of tourists to its hub at the City of David to the detriment of the historic city and its residents," Emek Shaveh added.