Minister of Transportation Israel Katz recently announced that the high-speed train line that is to connect Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the beginning of 2018 should be extended to the Western Wall, near which an underground stop should be built, according to his vision.
How serious is this? At this stage, Katz’s plan seems to be not more than an idea that he has reportedly instructed his staff to look into. The idea is in fact not new, having been raised three years ago by Katz and Israel Railway – together with the Jerusalem Development Authority, which first came up with the idea. The “plan” was announced alongside another of Minister’s Katz’s schemes: connecting the settlements of Givat Ze’ev and Maaleh Adumim to the Jerusalem light rail system, the planning for which has also not yet begun in earnest.
Why are these plans being brought up now? It is likely no accident that their publication coincided with the publication by the State Comptroller of a highly critical report regarding the actions and inaction of the Minister of Transportation, and shortly after Katz announced his intention to succeed Netanyahu as prime minister. This plan, similar to Mayor Barkat’s cable car initiative, is less about addressing the genuine needs of Jerusalem than it is about scoring political points. It is oblivious to the complexity and sensitivity of Jerusalem, and its discussion only further fans the flames of conflict, and its implementation would do the same, while doing little to promote the ostensible goal of improving transportation in Jerusalem.