Official Says Proposed Bridge Over Jerusalem Valley 'Will Infuriate International Community'

Most of the planned pedestrian bridge would be situated in the former no-man's land that separated Israel and Jordan before the Six-Day War.

The Ben Hinnom Valley in 2012. The bridge will be 197 meters long.
Moshe Gilad

The Jerusalem municipality and the Jerusalem Development Authority want to build a suspension bridge over the Ben-Hinnom Valley, between the neighborhood of Abu Tor and Mount Zion.

The plan was presented Monday for discussion in the local building and planning committee. However, in light of opposition by City Councilwoman Laura Wharton (Meretz), the committee’s legal adviser instructed the discussion to be taken off the agenda because it had been submitted at the last minute and lacked information.

The bridge, set to be 197 meters long, or about 650 feet, and 30 meters off the ground, is planned mainly for use by tourists. Most of it will be situated in the former no-man’s land that separated Israel and Jordan before the Six-Day War.

“City officials are once again making a grab in the planning committee and pouring more public money into a project that will infuriate the international community. It’s a pity, because there is a great deal of serious work to do in Jerusalem and there is no reason to invest in turning the city into an amusement park,” Wharton said.

Wharton added: “The Jerusalem Development Authority has already wasted much time and resources in this bizarre plan, thanks to the fact that Nir Barkat is still the city’s mayor on paper and at the same time, has been serving as [the authority’s] temporary chairman for the past three years. If Barkat keeps this up, he can at least give up the huge PR budgets and rely on the state comptroller to give him prominence.”

The municipality said in response: “No political argument was raised in the meeting, because the area in question has been within the State of Israel since its founding. This is not a grab by anyone and the request [for discussion of the plan] was placed on the agenda because the committee is going on Passover recess.”

The city added: The committee members asked for more time to examine the request, which was submitted a short time before the meeting, and so they asked to bring it to the next meeting. The legal adviser saw the request as reasonable and therefore recommended that discussion be postponed. In light of this, the committee chairman decided to postpone the discussion. The bridge is part of the previous Jerusalem development plan and the municipality will continue to promote other plans in the area.”

During the 19 years in which the city was divided, most of the area stretching from Jaffa Gate through the Ben-Hinnom Valley was completely abandoned and neglected, strewn with destroyed and crumbling buildings.