(JNS.org) The French consortium SAFEGE has decided to end its participation in a Jerusalem cable car transportation project over what the firm called "political" concerns.
According to a report in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, the move by SAFEGE came after a meeting with France’s foreign and economic ministries. The firm said that its decision was made “to avoid any political interpretation,” said a representative of Suez Environment, SAFEGE’s parent company.
Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, had contacted French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to complain about the project, which includes a cable car in eastern Jerusalem.
“The plan will lead to the illegal expropriation of private property, some of which belongs to the Waqf (Islamic religious endowment),” Erekat wrote to Fabius, Le Figaro reported.
In addition to pressure from the Palestinians, the $31.7 million cable car project has also been met with strong opposition from environmental and religious groups in Jerusalem. Project planners hope that the cable car will reduce traffic congestion in Jerusalem by easing transportation through the Israeli capital, including to holy sites in the Old City and the Mount of Olives.