TA-Jerusalem Railway to Pass Through Tunnels in W. Bank

The tracks will pass through two tunnels, one near the Latrun enclave and the second near Mevasseret Zion.

Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit decided last week to approve plans for an express railway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, two sections of which will pass through the West Bank. With the approval, the plan will move into the operational phase.

The train will pass through two tunnels, parts of which are beyond the Green Line, with the first near the Latrun enclave, and the second near Mevasseret Zion. Several months ago, Attorney General Menahem Mazuz froze plans for the section between the Daniel intersection and Jerusalem in order to research the legal implications of building tracks beyond the Green Line.

The subcommittee for roads of the government's Supreme Planning Council in Judea and Samaria submitted the investigation request to Mazuz, asking him to examine land rights, and determine whether building the tunnels within the territories violates international law.

The Justice Ministry said that Mazuz demanded that "planning and operational steps be taken to allow the rail infrastructure of the State of Israel to be connected in the future to the rail infrastructure serving the residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip." In this way, apparently, Mazuz sought to comply with international law requirements that any use of occupied territory should benefit its residents.

Deputy Attorney General Malkiel Blass announced to the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Major General Yosef Mishlav, who is in charge of planning and construction in the West Bank, that planning procedures may be resumed.

The tunnel at Latrun will pass under Canada Park, which was developed over the ruins of Palestinian villages destroyed after the 1967 Six Day War, and within the area on Israel's side of the separation fence. The tunnel near Mevasseret Zion will pass through only a very small section beyond the Green Line.