The Guardian has an interesting report about the new light railway being built in Jerusalem here. The last time I was there in 2009 there was a lot of work going on in Jaffa Street.
The focus of the story is on the gender, racial and security issues being raised by the railway. But there are also crucial spatial ones. Jerusalem has been, if you follow the Israeli narrative, reunited for forty years, with celebrations in 2007. Put alternatively Palestinian East Jerusalem has been occupied for that time. The annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel is illegal under international law. The route of line 1 – see the map here – crosses over the old green line in the city. Part of the railway’s aim, certainly long term, is also to link up more isolated Jewish settlements – themselves on occupied land and sometimes quite distant – in what are euphemistically called (often in the Western media) suburbs of East Jerusalem.
In his writings on state space, Lefebvre often discussed the way that large-scale infrastructure projects were integral to the production of space. This way of uniting parts of the city is part of a project of making the city united. It’s another example of how something that appears to be a public good – better transport in a complicated and crowded city – can also be highly contentious. Anyone looking for an example of the political geographies of transport systems – something Ed Soja discusses in Seeking Spatial Justice – might look no further.