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Israel plans to name new Jerusalem station after Trump

December 28, 2017

Israel's transport minister has pushed plans to name a future rail station near the Western Wall after US President Donald Trump. Yisrael Katz said he wanted to thank Trump for recognizing the city as Israel's capital.

Jerusalem Besuch US Präsident Trump Klagemauer
Image: Getty Images/AFP/R. Zvulun

An Israeli minister on Wednesday announced that he would like to name the final stop of a planned railway under Jerusalem's Old City after US President Donald Trump.

The current proposal, the brainchild of Israeli transport minister Yisrael Katz, would see the underground railway pass through eastern Jerusalem up to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews are permitted to pray and the area Palestinians view as their own future capital. 

Read more: Opinion: Trump wantonly fans the flames of Middle East conflict

"I have decided to name the Western Wall station ... after US President Donald Trump for his courageous and historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel," Katz said in a statement on Wednesday.

Trump's decision earlier this month to overturn decades of US regional policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel sparked worldwide criticism. 

Almost all world powers accused the US president of undermining the long-held position that Jerusalem's future should be settled as part of future peace negotiations.

According to Katz's plans, the underground rail route would also travel close to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried, and the contested holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims.

Jerusalem rail plans faced with condemnation and quagmires

However, the planned railway construction could prove as divisive as Trump's recognition itself.

Wasel Abu Youssef, who sits on the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, accused the "Israeli extremist government" of trying to "race against time to impose facts on the ground in the city of Jerusalem."

Read more: Pope Francis calls for two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians at Urbi et Orbi

The project would also involve excavating Jerusalem's politically sensitive Old City, a measure both Palestinian and Israeli officials have in the past vocally opposed. Last year, plans to convert an already excavated area by the Western Wall into a mixed-sex Jewish prayer section were halted after Israeli archeologists warned of irreparable damage to the ancient city.

Even with the transport minister's backing, any final railway — along with a "Trump Station" — would still require the approval from various governmental planning committees, as well as some $700 million (€587 million) in additional funding. A spokesperson for Israel's transport ministry declined to give any date for when a go-ahead could be given.

Trump's Jerusalem plan: A capital mistake?

dm/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)