Bus route being used to divide capital, councilman says

Police cite 'security concerns' as reason to postpone extension of line to yeshiva on Mount of Olives.

Egged no.5 298 (photo credit: Sybil Ehrlich)
Egged no.5 298
(photo credit: Sybil Ehrlich)
A planned Jerusalem bus route to the Beit Orot Yeshiva on the Mount of Olives has been stymied over the last year by police, who have called for the bus used on the route to be stone-proof, a city councilman said Tuesday. Jerusalem city councilor David Hadari of the National Religious Party said the police's decision of one year ago was "very strange," considering that the yeshiva was only 250 meters from the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, and reeked of political pressure against Jews living in east Jerusalem. "I urge you to deal with this matter in a practical manner and not let the police become pawns in the hands of politicians who want to delineate a policy of actively dividing Jerusalem under the cloak of security concerns," Hadari wrote in a Sunday letter to Jerusalem Police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco. Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said Tuesday that police were studying the issue following the receipt of the city councilor's letter this week. It was not immediately clear why the city councilman waited a year to write to the Jerusalem Police chief on the issue. The Transportation Ministry said Tuesday that the Egged bus company does operate some stone-proof buses in Jerusalem. However, Egged declined to comment on how many of its Jerusalem buses are stone-proof, citing security regulations. Security officials said some of the city buses to the Western Wall are stone-proof. The yeshiva - which received the property on which it is located, as well as heavy funding, from American Jewish millionaire Irving Moskowitz - is the nucleus of a new Jewish neighborhood on the northern ridge of the Mount of Olives, adjacent to the Mormon University. The bus line, which was intended to service both yeshiva students and local Jewish residents, was intended to be the last stop on an existing route to Mount Scopus. More than a dozen small Jewish enclaves exist or are under construction in or near Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, where some 1,000 Jews now live.