Israel to 'honour' Trump by naming train station after him
Yisrael Katz's plan, currently in the initial planning stage, involves constructing two underground stations and excavating over two miles of tunnel beneath downtown Jerusalem and under the occupied Old City. The Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews can pray.
Transportation Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadia said on Wednesday the project is estimated to cost more than $700 million and, if approved, would take four years to complete.
Katz's office said in a statement that the minister advanced the plan in a recent meeting with Israel Railways executives, and has fast-tracked it in the planning committees.
Katz said a high speed rail station would allow visitors to reach "the beating heart of the Jewish people – the Western Wall and the Temple Mount." He proposed naming the future station after Trump "for his brave and historic decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital" earlier this month.
Trump's announcement has enraged the Palestinians and much of the Muslim world. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution last week rejecting the US' recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, with several traditional American allies voting in favour of the motion.
The Western Wall train proposal will likely face opposition from the international community, which doesn't recognise Israel’s occupation of east Jerusalem and the Old City, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed.
Despite the likely opposition to the project, Ovadia said he expects the plans to be approved in the coming year, barring major complications. The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem high-speed line is expected to open next spring.
"There's no reason why this train won't be built," he said. "We already know how to deal with no less difficult opposition."
Katz has previously proposed other ambitious infrastructure projects, including an artificial island off the coast of the Gaza Strip that would serve as an air and seaport for the Palestinian territory, and a railway connecting Israel with Saudi Arabia.
Katz, who also serves as an intelligence minister, invited Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit, his spokesman said, in what would be a historic trip involving two nations with no official diplomatic ties.
Katz told Saudi news website Elaph earlier this month that Israel would be happy to host the influential crown prince amid rumours of rapprochement between the two countries.
After the interview was published, Elaph, often described as Israel's media backdoor to the Arab world, decided against including the invitation in its article and had quickly edited it out, but not before other media outlets took notice.