On the fast track to Ramallah: A plan for a train line that will run from the cities of Lod and Jerusalem to the West Bank town of Ramallah has already been formulated and is being examined by the government, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Monday.
The line, which is set to serve the Palestinian population, is expected to stir controversy, as it will provide the Arab public with direct access from the center of Israel to Jerusalem and Ramallah.
"This is completely insane," a Likud member said in response to the scheme. "They are planning to construct a line that will connect Ramallah
with Arab population centers in Israel and the capital."
The plan for the new line is already in very advanced stages. The government document that describes the program clearly states that that the project has been approved on condition that it meets several technical terms such as an evaluation of the line's ecological effects, to be prepared by the Ministry of the Environment.
Environment Minister Shalom Simhon confirmed that his office relayed instructions that such an evaluation be carried out, in order to inspect the potential effects of the planned line such as radiation, ground and water pollution.
One possibility is that the proposed plan stems from the legal restrictions on the construction of transportation routes. By law, private Palestinian land cannot be expropriated for purposes of constructing a transportation route unless it was proven this route will serve the Palestinians as well.
"The future line that is scheduled to be constructed between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem does not serve the Palestinians, and therefore it is impossible to expropriate lands in the area of Beit Surik and Latrun, on the way from Tel Aviv to the capital. Once it is established that the line is set to run to the Palestinian town as well, the land can be expropriated," a government official explained.