Israel plans to name East Jerusalem train station after Donald Trump

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Israel's transportation minister is moving forward with a plan to expand Jerusalem's soon-to-open high speed rail line to the Western Wall, where he intends to name a future station after Donald Trump.

And it's not just any old station.

The transportation minister, Israel Katz, said Wednesday that the Donald J. Trump station was a gesture to a USA president who had made a "courageous and historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel".

The station close to the site where Jews are permitted to pray will be called "Donald John Trump", the minister ordered, in tribute to his "historic and courageous decision" on Jerusalem.

A council resolution in the coastal city of Ashkelon would name a road "Trump Declaration Street", echoing the title of the "Balfour Declaration" of 1917, in which the British government committed to a Jewish home in British-mandatory Palestine. He described his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel's government as merely based on reality. 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.

The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem rail project, which is already projected to cost an estimated NIS 7 billion ($1.8 billion) and has been in planning since 2001, is expected to cut travel time to 28 minutes, down from 78 minutes on the old line built during the days of the Ottoman Empire. It would involve constructing two underground stations and excavating more than three kilometres of tunnel beneath Jerusalem, including under the Old City, according to AP.

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The route will take travelers through downtown Jerusalem and under the politically and historically sensitive Old City.

FILE - In this file photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010, a view of the bridge in construction for the planned high speed train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, near Latrun, Israel.

Katz might have used Trump's statement as an opportunity to reinvigorate a project marked by numerous setbacks and delays.

Katz, who is also intelligence minister and sees himself as a future prime minister, has served as transport minister for eight years.

The Western Wall is at the foot of the Haram Al-Sharif compound housing the Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.