On Saturday, December 9, 2023, signs were hung throughout the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem on behalf of the Jerusalem Municipality, informing about land expropriation to construct the pillars on which the planned cable car to the Old City will be suspended. The expropriations are for the purpose of surveying and locating the suitable place for building the pillars, enabling excavations and soil tests, and are limited to only eight years. After eight years, the exact area where the pillars will be built will be determined and permanently expropriated. Landowners were given 60 days to file objections.
The cable car is one of the largest projects in which the government is investing to support settlement projects and Israeli control over Palestinian neighborhoods south of the Old City. For more information about the cable car and its implications, see here. According to the expropriation plan, there are 12 sites for expropriation in a total area of about 10 dunams, in areas where there are no residential buildings but are mainly used for roads, courtyards, and more.
Peace Now: “Even during wartime, the Israeli government continues to promote settlement projects to take control of the public space in East Jerusalem, which will affect the delicate fabric of the city and further complicate any future political solution. The publication of the expropriation now indicates that the Netanyahu-Ben Gvir-Smotrich government is doing everything to establish facts on the ground as long as it is in power.”
The meaning of the Local Planning Committee’s Notice
The decision of the Jerusalem Local Planning Committee indicates the advancement of the cable car construction despite no tender being issued yet, and no company has been chosen to carry out the cable car’s establishment. It seems that the authorities are working to establish facts on the ground and prepare the conditions as much as possible for the rapid construction of the cable car when a company is decided upon.
It’s important to note that in Israel, there are no companies with experience in building and operating cable cars. It appears that the executing body will need to come from European or Asian countries where there are companies with the required knowledge and experience.
The Cable Car Project for the Old City
The cable car initiative began during the tenure of Tourism Minister Yariv Levin in 2017. The project was categorized as a ” construction project in a national priority” to bypass the planning committees that other transportation projects are supposed to undergo. The cable car is intended to connect between West Jerusalem and the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
In the initial stage, the cable car will run between three stations: starting from the first station in the Baka neighborhood, then to Mount Zion, and concluding at the Kedem Center of the Elad settler organization at the entrance to Silwan. In the long term, which is not currently approved, stations are planned at the Mount of Olives and the Shiloah Pool on the edge of the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood in Silwan.
The cable car will greatly reinforce the Elad settler organization’s hold in the Silwan neighborhood and other places in East Jerusalem. Its construction will enable the Elad settler organization to receive thousands of visitors to sites under its management, such as the City of David, and present East Jerusalem as an inseparable part of Israeli Jerusalem.