by: Ilse Strauss
Thursday, 20 February 2020 | Israel is all aboard for a new train station in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Transportation Ministry announced on Monday that plans for an extension to the current railway line that will carry passengers directly from Ben Gurion Airport to the Western Wall are going full steam ahead.
The station adjacent to the holiest site in Judaism and the spot where two biblical Temples once stood will be named for the first world leader who stepped up to acknowledge Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish people—and ratified that recognition with an embassy move: US President Donald Trump.
Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the plan, which was initiated by his predecessor, received the necessary nod of approval from the National Planning and Building Council after being held up for more than a year.
The plan entails an addition to the existing Tel Aviv–Jerusalem high-speed line that whisks passengers from one city to the other in just over half an hour, extending the route to the Old City via a 2-mile (3-km) tunnel and two underground stations. Although the exact details of the route have not been announced, the train will make its final stop at the Western Wall.
Smotrich lauded the plan as a “historic” development, “very good news for Israeli residents and the millions of tourists” who will now have the option of an uninterrupted trip from touching down in the Jewish state to marveling at the Western Wall.
Not everybody is equally excited about the prospect of the new development. Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Daifallah al-Fayez on Tuesday slammed the plan as a “flagrant violation of international law,” and called on the international community to take a stand against the “illegitimate and illegal Israeli steps,” the BBC reported.
Jordan stringently opposes any Israeli developments in the Old City. Following Israel’s rebirth in 1948, the Hashemite Kingdom attacked the Jewish state and managed to annex Judea and Samaria as well as portions of Jerusalem, particularly the Old City. Israel liberated the Old City and its holy sites—including the spot where the First and Second Temples one stood—during the Six Day War in 1976. The Jewish state did, however, hand administration various holy sites, including the Temple Mount, over to a Waqf (Muslim religious trust) under Jordanian custodianship.
Posted on February 20, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 20, 2020)
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