Electricity pole for East Jerusalem settlers gets in way of Catholic Church

(Haaretz) Pope Francis is planning to visit Israel in the next few months, and the Prime Minister’s Office announced Wednesday that Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with the pontiff during his trip to Italy next week. In the meantime, however, a single electricity pole continues to bother the Catholic Church and taint relations between it and Israel.

The electricity pole was put up by the Israel Electric Corporation two years ago across from the church near the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. The site at the foot of the Mount of Olives is one of the holiest to Christians – the place where tradition says Jesus and his disciples prayed together before Jesus was arrested by the Romans and crucified the next day. The church there is one of the oldest and most impressive in Jerusalem.

The electricity pole was placed across from the church as part of the construction of a separate electricity infrastructure for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, who have asked to be disconnected from the Jerusalem District Electricity Corporation, which supplies electricity to Arab neighborhoods on the city’s east side.

Jerusalem District Court Judge Yoram Noam on Wednesday criticized the Jerusalem municipality, which has allowed the IEC to place the electric pole in such a sensitive spot. “You wouldn’t have done it in the Kotel plaza,” said the judge off the record during a hearing on the matter Wednes. [more]