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UNESCO must pressure Israel to halt controversial cable car project, says JLAC

Jerusalem24– The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) is calling on UNESCO to pressure Israeli authorities to halt a cable car project that would run through occupied East Jerusalem.

The project, spearheaded by the Israeli government and the Jerusalem Development Authority, will see a 1,4km-long cable car route cutting through the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan as well as the Old City of Jerusalem, which has been inscribed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.

Several Silwan residents whose homes face demolition because of the cable car’s construction submitted petitions to the Israeli High Court.

However on Monday Justice Yosef Elron dismissed all four petitions filed against the plan, paving the way for the slated demolitions to go ahead.

The court stated that the public interest of constructing the cable car outweighs potential damage to private property, “dismissing, point-blank, the concerns of Silwan residents,” according to a JLAC statement issued on their website.

“JLAC […] maintains that the portrayal of the plan as merely one concerned with transportation and tourism is false and misleading,” the statement said. “The role played by the settler organization El-Ad/Ir David in promoting the cable car, combined with Israeli occupation attempts to entrench control over the southern area of the Old City, indicate that the cable car is yet another instrument for colonial control over the Old City and Silwan.”

Settler organization Elad, also known as the Ir David Foundation, is a settler organization engaged in settling Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, by developing tourism and archaeology and “strengthening the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.” It does this by arranging and processing the purchase of Palestinian-owned land in East Jerusalem for Jewish Israeli settlers, and filing lawsuits against Palestinian families in order to evict them from their homes.

A 2015 investigation found that Elad received around 426.98 million NIS in donations between 2006‒2013. The donations weren’t fully transparent, and the donors could not be identified from the tax documents.

The organization has concentrated a significant portion of their land acquisitions in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan, with settler houses and lands slated for touristic development interspersed across the Palestinian neighborhood.

The cable car route will further encroach on Palestinian property and homes in Wadi Hilweh as seen on the map below.

The planned cable car and train routes to the Historic Basin in occupied East Jerusalem. [Credit: Emek Shaveh]

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