21:48 GMT24 February 2021
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    The project is backed by the Israeli tourism minister and Jerusalem’s mayor, but is opposed by other Israeli experts.

    Israel's National Infrastructure Committee has approved a plan to construct a cable car that would connect West Jerusalem to Mount Zion, Haaretz reports.

    The proponents of the project say the cable road will be able to transport 3,000 passengers an hour at peak times, easing the traffic in the city with its 72 10-person cabins.

    The government has budgeted some $55.2 million for the project, which is set to be operational in 2021.

    The project is being backed by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, but is opposed by numerous experts, according to The Times of Israel.

    "Architects, academics, preservation experts and tour guides have heaped scorn on the scheme," the newspaper says, adding that they have called it a "poorly-thought-out, Disneyesque idea that will scar the historic landscape with 15 massive pylons," damage unique views of the Old City and its walls, which are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and do little to actually solve the traffic problems.

    "Critics have… stated that the cable car would commercialise Jerusalem, turning it into a kind of Disneyland, and will damage its famous beautiful skyline," Emek Shaveh, an Israeli archaeological NGO, warned in 2017.

    Besides, the experts cited by The Times of Israel point out that the construction of the system will also require construction of supplementary infrastructure, such as vast bus stops for tourists, and the current plan does not make clear how exactly that will be done.

    Moshe Safdie, an internationally renowned Canadian-Israeli architect, also said the architects' impressions of the system were "deceptive," making the cable cars look much smaller than they would be in reality.

    "To the best of my knowledge, there is no other historic city in the world that has allowed construction of a cable car system within the visual basin of its historical heritage," he said. "A cable car system, running close to the Old City walls… will provide a precedent that, without doubt, will spark international opposition and criticism."

    The plan will be officially published in Israeli newspapers Friday, kicking off a 60-day public comment period, during which the public can express their "reservations," the Times reports.


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