Petition to the HCJ: Prevent the Interim Government from Approving the Old City Cable Car Project
“Emek Shaveh”: Approval of the Cable Car by the Interim Government – An Election Grab to Push Through Costly Political Project
On June 3, 2019, the National Infrastructure Committee approved advancement of the Old City Cable Car Plan for government approval. Since the plan in question is a political plan, and after receiving no response to a request that the Attorney General and Tourism Minister intervene to prevent approval of the plan by the government, Emek Shaveh appealed to the High Court of Justice to prevent the interim government from approving the plan.
In the past, the High Court of Justice stated regarding an interim government: “This reality, in which the government reigns as an interim government based on legal directives, but without enjoying public trust, has legal ramifications…. During this period, the government is obligated to exhibit self-restraint in exercising its powers regarding those matters that do not require absolutely necessary and especially urgent action during the interim period.”
The Cable Car plan does not constitute an essential public necessity and its approval can withstand delay for a number of months, particularly in light of the fact that of late, the government has approved an across-the-board budget cut in government ministries totaling NIS 1.234 billion, due to a large deviation from the debt allowance.
In our petition, Emek Shaveh stated that: “Whether the cable car plan arose entirely from political aims, or is a combination of political aims with legitimate aims for the public good, its approval by an interim government is counter-indicated by the tremendous sensitivity required when implementing government powers when there is concern – even if only for the sake of appearances – that there is a link between said implementation of powers and the elections.”
As stated, the plan was approved by the National Infrastructure Committee on June 3, 2019. The committee’s decision was anticipated, after most of the objections submitted against the plan were rejected by the investigator appointed by the committee. The public objection submitted by Emek Shaveh, signed by public intellectuals and experts, and hundreds of citizens, focused on the deleterious impact to the landscape of the Old City, the cable car’s anticipated negative effect on the residents of Silwan, and the claim that the cable car will not solve the problem of transportation to the Old City. In addition to the public objection, objections were submitted by the Association of Engineers and Architects in Israel, the Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel, 15 Minutes – Public Transportation Alliance, Moreshet Derekh – the association of Israeli tour guides, Adam, Teva v’Din – Israel Union for Environmental Defense, The Association of Karaite Jews, and others.
In addition to the highly deleterious impact on the landscape of the Ben Hinnom Valley and the view of the Old City walls, the highly pertinent fact of the project’s political objectives – strengthening the Elad Foundation in Silwan and the plans of the Israeli government and the settler organizations in East Jerusalem. – cannot be ignored