Two thousand years ago, stone bridges connected the Jewish Quarter directly to the Temple Mount, saving the high priests the long trek down and back up. By this time next year, visitors with baby carriages and the disabled could be saving themselves the same schlep if an elevator is approved by the Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee.As night follows day, so do outraged statements from the Al Aqsa Heritage Foundation warning that every innocuous project in Jerusalem is a precursor to the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque.
The elevator, proposed by the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter, would start at Misgav Ledach Street and descend 21 meters to a new pedestrian tunnel. It would greatly improve access for visitors in wheelchairs or those with other disabilities, who now have to contend with several flights of stairs. The pedestrian tunnel would be 60-70 meters in length and pass underneath the stairs near the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva.
At present, the only way for visitors in wheelchairs to reach the Kotel is through the road leading to Dung Gate, which is very steep and has no sidewalks.
“The idea is to make a simple connection between the Jewish Quarter and the Kotel. We want to make the Kotel more accessible to people with disabilities, or even large families with baby carriages,” Daniel Shukuron, the project director from the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
The Al-Aqsa Foundation says the plans are a threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is adjacent to the Western Wall.Misgav Ledach Street is not very near the Kotel or the Temple Mount at all.
In a statement, the foundation said the project intended to divide the mosque and prevent worshipers from reaching it, citing the plan as an attempt by Israeli forces to increase the presence of Jews in the area.
The statement warned that the square in front of the wall could be used as a base to attack the compound.