Court Denies Jerusalem Residents' Petition Against Light Rail Line

Petitioners say the tram line will cause grave damage to the historic German Colony neighborhood.

The light rail train in Jerusalem.
Emil Salman

The Jerusalem District Court this week denied a petition filed by residents of the pricey German Colony neighborhood against the plan to run the light rail through their neighborhood.

The petitioners said the city’s plan to build the tram line through Emek Refaim street, closing most of it to cars, will cause grave damage to the historic thoroughfare and neighborhood.

They also said Mayor Nir Barkat broke his promise not to approve the plan before discussing their proposal for an alternative route that would circumvent their homes.

Judge David Mintz ruled that Barkat had not given the residents an official promise and that the petitioners had to submit objections to the planning bodies anyway. He said they submitted their alternative proposal too late and ordered them to pay 30,000 shekels ($8,000) in court expenses.

The residents’ action committee said it would appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court. “The struggle has just begun,” said Mordechai Avraham, one of the opponents. “Already 1,000 residents support us and the number is growing daily... We’re determined to win for the benefit of Emek Refaim and all of Jerusalem.”

Petitioners include Professor Ariel Hirschfeld and Professor Moshe Margalith, former head of the Tel Aviv University’s School of Architecture.

Plans for the third route of Jerusalem’s light rail (the “Blue Line”) are dividing residents of the German Colony, with many saying it will destroy the neighborhood’s picturesque atmosphere, while others believe it will give the entire area a boost.

The municipality commended the ruling and said many people in the area support the line, which will, in the municipality’s view, provide high quality, fast, environment-friendly transportation.