Press Release – The Cable Car to the Old City Reaches the High Court of Justice
On Monday, June 29 at 9am, the High Court of Justice will consider the legality of the approval process for the cable car. Emek Shaveh and experts have argued in a public petition that 1. The plan was approved by a transitional government which was not authorized to do so 2. The project, represented as a transportation project, was not assessed according to the accepted standards by the Ministry of Transportation 3. The decision was made based on misleading simulations.
Following the approval of the plan to build a cable car to the Old City of Jerusalem, Emek Shaveh, together with academics and professionals in the fields of architecture, urban planning, tourism and archaeology petitioned against the plan. Because the High Court of Justice does not have the jurisdiction to rule about matters relating to planning (nor politics), but rather to deliberate the legality of the process, the arguments that were detailed in the original public objection that was signed by 520 people (including 70 public figures), is not part of this petition.
Among those who have joined the petition with Emek Shaveh are two Israel Prize laureates for archaeology, Professor Amnon Ben-Tor and Ami Mazar, and the former chairman of the Antiquities Authority Council, Professor B. Z. Kedar, as well as the Rehav Rubin, Chair of the Center for the Study of the Land of Israel at Yad Ben Zvi, and leading architects including Moshe Safdie, Alona Nitzan-Shiftan, Amnon Bar-Or and David Guggenheim, together with a long list of academics.
The petition sets forth three central arguments:
- A transitional government is not authorized to make an irreversible decision such as approval of the cable car project: The cable car project will cost the public hundreds of millions of shekels. During a period when the government is carrying out a broad cut in the budget of billions of shekels and is reducing the budgets for health and welfare, it is inappropriate that a transitional government leaves a bequest of this magnitude for the next government to inherit. In the response of the Deputy Attorney General, Att. Othman Roslan, to the petition, while arguing that the process was not in conflict with the law, he did not conceal the fact that the it was problematic.
- There was a serious flaw in the planning process in that the Ministry of Transportation was not included in the project that purports to be a transportation project: While the project is represented as a transport project, the Ministry of Transportation was not included in the process and the project
- was not required to meet the standards set forth for transportation projects in the State of Israel. Instead it was approved on the basis of reports and data less comprehensive than those required for every other transportation project.
- The decision was made on the basis of misleading simulations: The backers of the plan did not present complete simulations that accurately illustrate the cable cars in motion and the resulting damage to the historic landscape. The National Infrastructure Committee should have demanded that the backers present simulations that illustrate the actual cars in motion.
At this time, while the entire tourism industry is facing an unprecedented crisis, the government of Israel is stubbornly insisting on throwing away hundreds of millions of shekels from the Ministry of Tourism’s budget on a project which, as time passes, becomes clearer how completely unnecessary it is.
The petition to the High Court of Justice submitted by senior professionals in all of the relevant fields – architects, historians, geographers, tourism experts and archaeologists – speaks more loudly than anything else to the fact that this project serves neither tourism nor transportation objectives, but is, rather, driven by political considerations.
We hope that the High Court of Justice will stop the onward march of the cable car project and will rescue Jerusalem from the destruction of its heritage and its historical sites.