Cable Car land expropriations of 10,000 sqm. on Jerusalem committee’s agenda

The Jerusalem Municipality’s local planning committee is slated to discuss this week the expropriation of over 10,000 sqm. of private property in areas situated along the route of the planned cable car

A month ago the High Court of Justice asked the State to explain why the cable car was approved by the National Infrastructure Committee as a tourism scheme. The State is finding it challenging to respond but the developers have already embarked on the process of expropriation. *To facilitate the construction of the cable car, 10,222 sqm. of private lands will be expropriated. Most of the parcels are located in the neighbourhood of Silwan. * Emek Shaveh: Tourism and the welfare the residents are being sacrificed by those who are advancing this controversial project On Wednesday 9th of September, the Jerusalem Municipality’s local planning committee will discuss issuing expropriation orders for the purpose of constructing the cable car to the Old City. The expropriation includes areas in Wadi Hilweh/City of David, areas around the homes along the Old City walls, areas in the Wadi Rababa neighbourhood in the Ben Hinnom Valley, and areas in West Jerusalem on Hebron Road and David Remez road (see map attached in Hebrew).

The expropriated areas will be used for the stations and pillars supporting the cable car.  In some of the cases these are limited areas – at only a few tens of square meters –  while other areas are larger.  Some of the expropriations are planned adjacent to or in the gardens of the homes of the residents of Silwan.

At the end of June, the High Court of Justice heard petitions against the cable car plan following which the judges asked for the State to clarify its claim that the project will advance tourism in the area – i.e the reason the  project bypassed the usual planning committees and was approved in an expedited process by the National Infrastructure Committee. Yesterday was the deadline for the State’s response, but following the State’s request. the court decided to grant an extension until the beginning of next month.

Despite the fact that the court has yet to decide whether the cable car was approved according to the rules of good governance, and has given the State an extension to reply to its queries, the State through the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA)  is already advancing to the next phase of the project. Last week the JDA publicized a call for tenders for the construction and operation of the project using the BOT (Built-Operate-Transfer) method.

Map and list of land parcels considered for expropriation

A month ago 75 architects and academics sent a letter to Minister of Tourism Asaf Zamir, requesting that he take  the opportunity granted to him by the High Court and cancel the plan. This past week 3000 Israelis added their signatures to a petition distributed by Zazim.

Emek Shaveh: With no tourism and no budget we are left with political interests. While there is a consensus among professionals that the project is destructive to Jerusalem, it seems nothing is stopping the State authorities from serving the interests of the Elad Foundation, the radical right wing organization in Silwan.

At a time when the tourism industry is dealing with the biggest crisis it has ever known and while the Ministry cannot explain to the Court how the cable car will contribute to tourism in the area, it would be preferable had the Jerusalem Municipality and the authorities used greater discretion before taking measures to confiscate  thousands of square meters of private property. The residents of Jerusalem, including the residents of East Jerusalem are facing unprecedented financial and health related challenges, some of which are the result of a failed government policy. Instead of looking after the residents, the municipality continues to be act antagonistically, further exacerbating an already fragile situation.