Israel's planned Jerusalem cable car irks Palestinians
By Dedi Hayun JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli plan to run a cable car over Jerusalem to the walls of the Old City has angered Palestinians who say it would erase their heritage in areas they seek for a future state. The proposed cable car would shuttle some 3,000 tourists and worshippers per hour from Jerusalem's western part to the eastern Old City in a four-minute ride. The plan moved forward this week when a special committee headed by Israel's finance minister gave it a green light.
By Dedi Hayun
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli plan to run a cable car over Jerusalem to the walls of the Old City has angered Palestinians who say it would erase their heritage in areas they seek for a future state.
The proposed cable car would shuttle some 3,000 tourists and worshippers per hour from Jerusalem's western part to the eastern Old City in a four-minute ride. The plan moved forward this week when a special committee headed by Israel's finance minister gave it a green light.
The government says the roughly 220 million shekel ($63 million) scheme will alleviate heavy traffic to the area, which packs out with tourists and residents visiting its many Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious sites.
"This is a strategic project to promote tourism to Jerusalem's Old City," said Israel's Jerusalem and Heritage Minister Zeev Elkin. Israeli officials say it will also serve Palestinian residents of the city.
But Palestinians say its planned route would place cable cars just metres above their homes in East Jerusalem and stir frictions over the future of a city at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), termed the plan illegal.
"The Israeli cable car project is an obscene violation of the cultural, historical, spiritual, geographic & demographic character of Jerusalem," Ashrawi said via Twitter.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which includes the walled Old City, as capital of a future state. Israel annexed the area after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East war and says the entire city is its eternal and indivisible capital.
The cable car project, intended to be ready for 2021, must still win final government approval.
Tourists and guides at the Old City welcomed the project, saying it would reduce travel time and congestion. "The cable car is a very efficient way to appreciate the beauty of the place," said Socorro Calixto, a tourist from the Philippines.
But Palestinians in Silwan, an East Jerusalem neighbourhood at the foot of the Old City, said it would encourage tourists to bypass them on the way to holy sites.
"(It) will give the impression that it is a Jewish city and remove the Palestinian heritage from it," Silwan resident Khaled Al-Zeer said, adding that "the foundations of the project will be built on our land".
Yotanan Mizrachi, an archaeologist who heads the Israeli NGO Emek Shaveh, is part of a coalition that opposes the cable car on grounds that it is a "political project" that will cause "irreversible damage to the historic city".
"(It is) going to influence the way we see and understand the archaeology and the antiquity of Jerusalem," Mizarchi said.
($1 = 3.4912 shekels)
(Reporting by Dedi Hayun; Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Writing by Maayan Lubell and Rami Ayyub; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.