Almost since the very beginning of Nir Barkat’s tenure in office as mayor of Jerusalem, we have speculated that Barkat aspired to “Disney-fy” Jerusalem, transforming one of the most cherished heritage sites in the world into a pseudo-Biblical theme park. Barkat’s efforts on the ground – with projects like the (stalled) Kings Garden – bear this out.
However, a newly publicized plan demonstrates that Barkat’s vision may well go beyond even what we had previously imagined..
On May 1, the Municipality of Jerusalem posted on its official website (so far only in Hebrew) that during the past several months, joint planning teams of the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Ministry of Transportation have been working on plans for a cable car. The cable car would lead from Abu Tor in the South, to the Western Wall (with its terminal to be located just outside the ramparts adjacent to the Al Aqsa mosque), and to the Mount of Olives. The proposed route is 1.6 kilometers long, and the system would be capable of ferrying 4000-6000 people an hour. The website boasts that one of the advantages of such a scheme is that it can be implemented rapidly.
A map of the proposed cable car project can be viewed/downloaded here
How likely is it that this plan, which would appear altogether tone-deaf to the unique character and sensitivities of Jerusalem, will be implemented? One indication may be the reaction of a spokesman for the Ministry of Transportation, who on May 2 told journalists:
“This is not a proposal, it’s nothing more than [an] idea, if that…The [transportation minister] has yet to review this project and there’s no way such a cable car could transport as many people as the municipality is claiming. It’s a big exaggeration… This is more about his [Barkat’s] reelection than a serious model for the city’s infrastructure… The infrastructure of the city is [an] extremely complicated subject because of the sensitivity to the Old City. Any such plans are far from being approved.”