The Yeshiva World
The housing cabinet, headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, authorized a plan for a cable car project that will provide access to the Kosel in the Old City in Jerusalem.
The cable car is intended to promote tourism, provide accessibility to the Kosel and Ir Dovid and also provide a solution to traffic congestion in the Old City, especially during high traffic times such as during Yamim Tovim.
The cable car system will extend from the Tachana Rishona (First Station) area in the Baka area near central Jerusalem and extend to Sha’ar Ha’ashpot (Dung Gate) near the Kosel. Passengers will pass through Abu Tor, over the Valley of Hinom, stop at Har Tzion, and then over the Palestinian village of Silwan to the final stop at the future Kedem Center. The one-mile ride is expected to take 4.5 minutes.
The Kedem Center is a seven-story complex that the Tourism Ministry and Ir Dovid Foundation are planning on building on a site of 15,000 square meters in the Silwan neighborhood right outside the Old City near Sha’ar Ha’ashpot. The building will be a venue for tourism and have commercial areas and a parking lot and will include two projects, the Bible Center project and the cable car project.
It’s estimated the the system will transport about 3,000 people per hour in both directions. Each carriage will hold 10 passengers and up to 72 carriages will be built.
Some groups are fiercely opposed to the plan, including architects, environmentalists and advocates of cultural preservation, saying the infrastructure will mar the historical site and will not be effective in solving the current problems of access and congested traffic. However, the most fierce opposition comes from left-wing groups who are afraid of Palestinian opposition to construction in the Old City and are opposed to Jewish intrusion into the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan.
A left-wing NGO involved in the preservation of cultural heritage, Emek Shaveh, plans to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court about the project’s approval, saying that a transitional government cannot approve such a significant project, according to a Jerusalem Post report.
“The appeal to the Supreme Court is intended to prevent the destructive impact that a cable car will have on the Old City landscape and on the fragile political situation in Jerusalem,” Emek Shaveh stated.
“The government has not been able to approve budgets for the disabled and for health, yet it manages to approve a budget of NIS 220 million for a tourism venture,” the NGO added. “This indeed summarizes the priorities of the outgoing government.”
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said: “The Western Wall is not accessible enough for the general public. We waited for two thousand years for the Kosel, and it’s not feasible that due to the many traffic jams, people are prevented from going to the Wall to daven, visit and take part in military and national ceremonies that take place there.”
“The cable car will provide access to the Kosel and the many people who want to reach the Kosel today and simply can’t. This is a national project that is not solely transport and tourism infrastructure, but a social project that will make the Kosel accessible to anyone who wants to reach it.”