(February 2, 2018 / JNS) A report by the European Union leaked to The Guardian newspaper expressed ire over Israeli tourism in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, calling the ongoing development of Jewish infrastructure a form of “touristic settlement.”
The E.U. Heads of Mission in Jerusalem issued a report warning that the development of Jewish tourism in the ancient City of David, currently located within a heavily populated Palestinian neighborhood, and a planned cable car that would transport tourists from the Western sections of the city to the Western Wall plaza within the Old City, were “a political tool to modify the historical narrative and to support, legitimize and expand settlements.”
The report asserts that the projects promote the “historic continuity of the Jewish presence in the area at the expense of other religions and cultures.”
The cable car, which E.U. diplomats have dubbed “highly controversial,” is anticipated to be operational by 2020. It is being erected to ease traffic on the narrow streets surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City and drastically reducing travel time. An estimated 25,000 people are expected to utilize the system per day.
Additionally, the report states that “critics have described the project as turning the World Heritage site of Jerusalem into a commercial theme park, while local Palestinian residents are absent from the narrative being promoted to the visitors.” They further suggested that the cable-car project would pose a security threat, as one of the cable-car stations would be some 420 feet from the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif site administered by the Jordanian Wakf.
More than 30 registered World Heritage sites around the world are accessible via cable-car systems.