J'lem cable car to Old City aims to ease traffic

Banking on a continuing rise in tourism, the city of Jerusalem plans to build an $8 million cable car system that will carry visitors from a hill in the modern section of the city to the Western Wall, a city spokesman said. Government officials hope the cable car, whose approval by the city council is expected and which could be completed as early as 2008, will ease the crush of visitors in the streets of the Old City, often the site of traffic jams and sparse parking, said Gidi Schmerling, a city spokesman. The project is part of a larger transportation plan that includes a tram covering most parts of Jerusalem, he said. The number of visitors to Israel rose 26 percent in 2005 over the previous year, and Israel's Tourism Ministry hopes to attract 3 million tourists in 2006, shattering the previous record of 2.5 million in 2000.