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As if the light rail didn't have enough problems already

by michael October 30 2007
Municipal news




Beset for years already by poor planning, financial bungling, and general bureaucratic shortsightedness, the much-touted, as-yet-unseen Jerusalem Light Rail is now facing a legal challenge from those explosive spoilsports in the PLO. The Guardian reports, nuanced as always:

The Palestinians have begun legal action against two prominent French companies in an attempt to stop work on a contested light-railway project in Jerusalem.

When it begins operating in 2010, the railway will stretch for eight and a half miles through West and East Jerusalem, taking, it is estimated, 400,000 passenger-journeys a day. Its backers say it will ease road congestion.

But the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is bringing the court case, through its delegation in Paris, argues that the railway will breach the fourth Geneva convention by providing infrastructure to Jewish settlements on occupied land.

A key section of the line will run into East Jerusalem, linking Jewish settlements, which are home to tens of thousands of people, to the city centre. "This tram will constitute at least an element in the expansion of the colonisation of East Jerusalem by the state of Israel," the Palestinian delegation said in a statement.

Here Jerusalemite thought that the light rail was mostly intended to ferry suburban residents downtown in order to free up the roads and restore a little vitality to the city center, but apparently it's also a sinister program of colonization, a veritable Manifest Destiny Express hauling settlers into Arab Jerusalem.

What the PLO doesn't realize, however, is that they really have no cause for worry. Given the municipality's history of screw-ups over the course of the light rail project, even if the "expansion of colonisation" was indeed part of the plan, it would doubtless eventually be mismanaged into irrelevance. So breathe easy, PLO, and go back to what you do best: squirreling desperately needed Palestinian aid money away into Swiss bank accounts.

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