Israeli authorities are set to start excavation works in occupied East Jerusalem to prepare for the construction of a cable car, a controversial project that would dramatically alter the landscape of the historic Old City of Jerusalem and expand the Israeli presence in the Palestinian-majority neighbourhood
Excavation will start by mid-November, project director Shmulik Tzabari was quoted as saying by Israeli media.
Israeli authorities have reportedly approved the uprooting of trees on Mount Zion, and for infrastructure including water, sewage and telecommunications to be displaced from the planned path of the cable car.
In July, a petition to Israel’s High Court was filed by the World Karaite Movement, which has a cemetery in the area; Palestinian residents of the neighbourhood of Silwan, over which the cable car is planned to pass; and Emek Shaveh, an Israeli NGO opposing the politicisation of archaeology.
The High Court has asked the Israeli authorities to supply a “factual basis” for the project and is set to issue a decision on 22 November. But despite the pending court decision, Tzabari indicated that excavations may begin before then.
The Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA), the Israeli body responsible for the cable car project, has won the approval of the Agriculture Ministry’s Forest Commissioner’s Unit to uproot trees along the cable car’s route.