JERUSALEM — Israel’s minister of transportation wants to name a new train station set to be built in the next few years in Jerusalem after President Trump.
And it’s not just any station.
If all goes according to plan, the station will sit close to the Western Wall and ferry the faithful — and about 11 million tourists a year — to one of Judaism’s holiest sites in the disputed Old City.
The transportation minister, Israel Katz, said Wednesday that the naming of the station was a gesture to a U.S. president who had made a “courageous and historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel.”
On Dec. 6, Trump said he was officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing a longtime U.S. policy and challenging a global consensus to leave the status of Jerusalem ambiguous until the final phase of any future peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Foreign embassies and most other diplomatic missions, including the U.S. Embassy, are based in Tel Aviv. But Trump's decision could clear the way for the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Trump said that his announcement marked “the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians” and that he was simply recognizing reality, “nothing more or less.”
But the move has prompted weeks of protest in Arab and Muslim countries around the world and numerous "days of rage" in Jerusalem, Israel and the West Bank. At least 12 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli security forces, including two militants in an Israeli airstrike that came as response to rockets fired from Gaza at civilian areas in southern Israel.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said the United States can no longer be a fair broker in the peace process. Last week, in an emergency session at the United Nations General Assembly, 128 countries backed a resolution condemning the new U.S. position.
The train line planned by Katz is an extension of a new high-speed rail link set to open next year connecting Jerusalem to Israel’s commercial center in Tel Aviv and the country's airport nearby.
The plan announced Wednesday will see the train continuing from the entrance of the city and traveling through a two-mile tunnel — some 190 feet underground — to reach inside the Old City's walls.
“Trump Station” will be built in the city’s Jewish Quarter.
Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonot reported Wednesday that there will be an additional station along the way, in the Western part of Jerusalem, and that the train will feature a VIP car to transport visiting dignitaries directly from the airport to the Western Wall.
A statement from Katz’s office said the project was a national priority, meaning construction on the line would be expedited and started within the next year.
Katz, who is also intelligence minister and has hopes of one day being prime minister, has served as transport minister for eight years. Known in Israeli politics as “the bulldozer,” he has successfully advanced numerous large infrastructure projects countrywide.
However, as with many building projects in the holy city, excavation of the tunnel will likely be impeded by the discovery of any archaeological sites or ancient graves.
The Western Wall, visited by 11 million people a year, is part of the remaining rampart built around the Second Temple, destroyed in A.D. 70 by Roman legions under Titus. Jews believe the area just beyond the wall marks the foundation stone of the world’s creation and is the place where Abraham was instructed by God to sacrifice his son Isaac.
The same area is now home to the al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the oldest in Islam, and the Dome of the Rock, the landmark where tradition says the prophet Muhammad made his night journey to heaven.