Local Committee to Approve on Wednesday Land Expropriation in Silwan for Construction of Cable Car Project

September 7, 2020
On Wednesday September 9th, the Jerusalem Local Committee is scheduled to approve expropriation of areas in Silwan in preparation for the construction of the Cable Car, which is designed to connect West Jerusalem and various settler projects in Silwan. Such land expropriation is under the authority of the Jerusalem Municipality, therefore Wednesday's session will allow for the seizing of the land in question with no further approval needed at the District Committee level.

The expropriation is intended for the construction of infrastructure poles and stations for the cable car. Some of the expropriation is permanent and some is for an eight-year period. The land targeted for expropriation lies on both sides of the Green Line. On the East of the Green Line, eight parcels of land in Silwan with a total area of 1,357 square meters are targeted for expropriation.

The significance of the expropriation is much more than its size may suggest. The lands marked for expropriation are located in the densely built up area of Wadi Hilwe, Silwan. At worst they can lead to the demolition of nearby homes if they were built without a permit. Even if homes are not demolished, the construction of the cable car infrastructure and the subsequent operation of the cable car above their rooftops will greatly harm the community of Wadi Hilwe.

Most significant is the purpose and the impact that the operation of the Cable Car will have on Wadi Hilwe and the whole of Silwan. This huge transportation project is funded by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism at a budget of hundreds of millions of shekels. It will connect between West Jerusalem ("The First Station" complex) and the Kedem Compound in Wadi Hilwe, Silwan. The Kedem Compound is a planned visitor center that the settler organization ELAD is planning to construct on the main road of Silwan across from the City of David National Park which it operates.  Although the Cable Car is presented as a means of public transportation for those wishing to visit the Old City, its station is planned to be constructed on the roof of the ELAD controlled Kedem Compound whereby it will lead all those who use it to ELAD's Activity Center.

The Cable Car- marked as number 35 in the map below - is the most significant of a number of projects being currently advanced in order to create a seamless connection between West Jerusalem and the settler enterprises in Silwan.

The project was met with strong objections of Silwan residents, human rights groups, as well as planners and environmental organizations. Nevertheless its approval process was fast tracked by the Israeli government through the National Infrastructure Committee and was completed in November of last year. Emek Shaveh and other organizations appealed to the court claiming that there were irregularities in the approval process and that it was based on inaccurate information. Although the appeal is still pending and the court was not satisfied with the state's initial response to the appeal, the authorities are not waiting and are now advancing the expropriation of land for the project.

This map shows the combination of settler compounds and state-funded projects which together aim to create a ring of settlements around the Old City. The Cable Car (number 35 on the map) is intended to create a smooth connection from West Jerusalem toe the ELAD controlled Kedem Compound in Silwan (number 36 on the map)