Three weeks after Donald Trump announced that the United States will move its embassy to Jerusalem, Israel announced that it will name a new underground train station near the Western Wall after the American president.
The “Donald John Trump, Western Wall” station will be just feet from Judaism’s holiest site, known in Hebrew as the Kotel. The station will be part of the anticipated Tel Aviv-Jerusalem express train line and will serve as a hub for the millions of people who visit Jerusalem’s Old City every year.
“The Kotel is the holiest place to the Jewish people, and I have decided to name the train station leading to it after U.S. President Donald Trump, in recognition of his brave and historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital," Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said on Tuesday.
In Trump’s December 6 announcement, he said the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin the process of relocating its embassy there from Tel Aviv.
“We finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Trump said. “This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality.”
Following that decision, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to recognize Trump’s decision, and called Jerusalem the “eternal capital of the state of Palestine.” Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called Trump’s move an “uncalculated gamble that will know no limit to the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim reaction.”
Following Palestinian calls for three “days of rage,” thousands of Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza clashed with Israeli troops and police, leaving two Palestinians dead.
Last Friday, the United Nations General Assembly voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, to condemn Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Four days earlier the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding that Trump rescind his move.
"The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in this assembly," said U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. "This vote will make a difference in how Americans look at the U.N."
The rail line will run 170 feet below street level and will require over two miles of tunnel beneath Jerusalem and the politically and religiously sensitive Old City. Although the tunnel should be deep enough “to avoid disturbing sensitive archaeology,” any archaeological finds during the dig “could derail or severely delay the project.”
Transportation Minister Katz called the train line the “most important national project in the Transportation Ministry.” His office said it could be four years until the line is completed.
On Wednesday, Ikrema Sabri, a Muslim cleric and the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem said, “Giving the name of Trump to this project will not give it any legitimacy. It would be just another implementation of the unacceptable decision of President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”