Railway line to Ramallah proposed

"In the future, when there is peace, Palestinians will be able to reach J'lem."

The Transportation Ministry has proposed the building of a railway line to Ramallah as a branch of the high-speed line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem now under construction. The branch would leave the main line in the Lod area. Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit confirmed to The Jerusalem Post in a wide-ranging interview that a report in last week's issue of the local paper Yerushalayim was correct. Because of the necessity to expropriate Palestinian land for the building of the line, the branch to Ramallah would be a form of compensation so Palestinians could also benefit from the high-speed railway. Sheetrit pointed out that in the area of Latrun, where Highway 1 crosses a tongue of land across the Green Line, the railway would be in a tunnel. The Justice Ministry objected to building the railway over the Green Line, Sheetrit said. "I spoke to everyone in the Justice Ministry and asked them whether they thought we would return this territory to the Palestinians. It is Highway 1. Can anyone even conceive of giving Highway 1 to the Palestinians? So why are you arguing with us in the first place? They said no, according to international law, if you use Palestinian territory, the Palestinians have to be able to use it," he said. "I said absolutely. When there is peace, let them use it. I then proposed a [branch line] to Ramallah. So in the future, when there is peace, I hope, the Palestinians will be able to [use the line] and reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem." Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told the Post on Thursday that he was unaware of any such plan. He said that in any land grab the Palestinians would not benefit but could only lose.