Jerusalem: Taiking a cable car to the wailing wall
The Israeli government has given the green light to the controversial construction of a cableway between the Old City in East Jerusalem and the western part of the city. Starting from 2021, the cableway should run from a station located in the west of Jerusalem over a distance of 1.4 kilometers to close proximity of the Wailing Wall in the Old City and transport 3,000 passengers per hour.
The government approved the first stage of the 43-million-euro construction project last year. The Israeli Minister of Tourism, Jariv Levin, now welcomed the second decision in favor of the cableway with these words: “The cableway will change the face of Jerusalem and offer tourists and visitors easy and comfortable access to the Wailing Wall.” Controversial though the project may be, Jerusalem’s infrastructure would greatly benefit from it.
130,000 people visit the Wailing Wall every week. From 2021 on, they will be able to reach it also by a cable car. Photo: Fotolia/lucky-photo
The foreseen 40 gondola cars, each for 10 persons, would be able to transport 3,000 passengers per hour. According to Levin, the transport would be disabled- accessible to also allow physically handicapped people to reach Jerusalem’s Old City without difficulty. Four stations are planned: the Bahnhof, HaMefaked Street, Mount Zion and the Western Wall stations. One ride with the cable car should cost the same as taking a regular bus. Those responsible for the project expect that this “environment-friendly” means of transport will transfer 130,000 passengers every week.
Despite this, the cableway project – as numerous other infrastructure projects in East Jerusalem – has met with harsh criticism from Palestinians, as well as the international community. Some critics from the Palestinian camp fear that the project could further increase Israeli influence in Jerusalem. Others expect that the construction will lead to a wave of illegal dispossessions.
“It will only make Jerusalem a kind of biblical Walt-Disney theme park,” argues Daniel Seidman, the project’s opponent of many years. The Israeli authorities, on the other hand, claim that given the number of visitors, the cable car will facilitate access to the Wailing Wall – the holiest site in Judaism – for Jews, Arabs and tourists alike. The existing access roads to the holy sites are narrow, steep and overcrowded due to the Old City’s topography which makes their widening or the building of additional roads practically impossible. This is also the reason why the Ministry of Tourism has been fighting for a cableway for over ten years now. ts