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Israeli Minister Wants to Name a Jerusalem Train Station for Trump

Ahmad Tibi, a leading Arab member of the Knesset, called Mr. Katz’s proposal “part of the chain reaction to the Trump speech,” which he said had set off “a competition among ministers over who will be more extreme regarding the matter of Jerusalem.”

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The Contested Site in Jerusalem

The holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City, which Jews call Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary, has long been a flash point in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

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And Jamal Zahalka, another Arab lawmaker, who said that extending the railroad into the Old City would violate international law by tampering with the status quota in East Jerusalem, said Mr. Katz’s idea of a tribute to Mr. Trump would be especially galling. “For Palestinians, the name of Trump is worse than the name of Netanyahu,” he said.

Other Israelis poked fun at Mr. Katz’s idea. “Why stop with train station, ingrates?” Chemi Shalev, a Haaretz columnist, wrote on Twitter. “Kotel should be renamed Trump Wall, and the praying area Ivanka Square.” (Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, converted to Judaism when she married.)

Reaching the Old City by train would require an extension of a new Tel Aviv-to-Jerusalem express railroad that is nearing completion after 15 years and $ 2 billion in construction. It is meant to cut the commute between Israel’s two largest cities to 28 minutes from over an hour when it opens in the spring.

Extending it to the Old City would require digging another tunnel two miles long and 170 feet below ground, Mr. Katz’s office said, along with building two new stations — one near the Dung Gate along the Old City’s southern perimeter, and one beneath the Cardo, the north-south Roman thoroughfare first paved by Emperor Hadrian in the second century, and later extended into what is now the Jewish Quarter by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.

In a statement, Mr. Katz said that a station serving the Kotel, or Western Wall, would “enable Israelis, Jews and tourists from around the world to connect using the fastest, safest way to the beating heart of the Jewish nation — the Kotel and the Temple Mount.”

An adviser to Mr. Katz, Arye Shalicar, said the Old City extension would cost about $ 715 million and take four to five years. Its route, he said, could be adjusted to satisfy any archaeological concerns.

He noted that Mr. Katz had honored Americans before, naming one piece of heavy equipment used in a project in Tel Aviv after Nikki R. Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations, and another after Wonder Woman, the fictional superhero played in the movies by an Israeli actress.

“In the end, he’s a politician, and he wants to say thank you — as a senior politician who wants to be prime minister — to President Trump, who’s doing something he very much appreciates,” Mr. Shalicar said.

Source: NYT > World

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