The cabinet, which convened in the Western Wall Tunnels on Sunday to mark Jerusalem Day, approved a plan to build a cable car to the Western Wall.
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The cable car project, which has been pushed aggressively over the past two years by the Jerusalem municipality and Jerusalem Development Authority, will pass sensitive sites, including the Old City and Temple Mount. The first stage involves building two stations, the first at the historic train station at the end of Emek Refaim Street, the second near the Old City’s Dung Gate, at the entrance to the City of David and a short walk from the Western Wall.
The cabinet agreed to allocate 15 million shekels ($4.2 million) from the Tourism Ministry’s budget to plan the project, which would make the Old City more accessible to tourists and likely be a new tourist attraction itself, offering an overhead view of the Old City and its surroundings.
It is as yet unclear whether the original plan to build two additional stops, at the 7 Arches Hotel on the Mount of Olives and the churches of Gethsemane, near the Old City’s Lions Gate, will be advanced in the future.
The project is politically controversial, since the cable car would operate in East Jerusalem, near the Temple Mount and various Christian holy sites. The project, which has been discussed for years, hit a snag two years ago when Safege, a French company slated to play a key role in its planning, dropped out after the French treasury and Foreign Ministry warned the company of the diplomatic consequences.
The cabinet on Sunday approved a series of other projects in Jerusalem, including a plan to financially induce Arab East Jerusalem schools to switch from the Palestinian curriculum to the Israeli one, and a plan to build an elevator between the Old City’s Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall plaza.