The cabinet will reportedly approve plans next week to build an elevator and an underground passageway from the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City to the Western Wall that would allow more accessibility to the holy site.
Currently, visitors must descend a series of steep and narrow staircases to access the site, significantly limiting accessibility to those with limited mobility who use the steep road leading to Dung Gate to reach it.
The plan would make the Western Wall accessible to persons using wheelchairs, others with disabilities and the elderly, Israel National News reported on Friday.
The project, which is estimated to cost NIS 50 million ($14 million), is the joint initiative of Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu), Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) and Deputy Housing Minister Jacky Levi (Likud).
The plan, which will be funded by a number of government ministries, is aimed at further connecting the Jewish Quarter with the Western Wall, as well as encouraging tourism at both sites, according to the report.
Galant said the project was meant to “strengthen the presence of Jews” at the Western Wall amid efforts “to undermine that the Western Wall belongs to the Jewish people [and is under] Israeli sovereignty.”
“Now, the State of Israel not only declares that the Western Wall belongs to it, but also invests resources in it,” the report quoted him as saying.
According to the plan, the elevator shaft will measure 33 meters from top to bottom and a pedestrian tunnel leading from the elevator to the Western Wall security checkpoint will be 65 meters long. The project will also include an entrance hall to the elevator which will eventually house a number of stores, as well as an area for conferences and meetings, according to the report.