Israel is preparing a plan reportedly meant for renovating sections of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem, including opening a gate in the City’s walls for the first time since 1898.The plan was presented to the Municipal Planning and Construction Committee and is meant to facilitate access to the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, according to the Israeli daily, Haaretz.
If finalized and implemented, a tunnel will be dug under all the archeological layers of ancient Jerusalem. The planned gate is meant to be the entry of a new tunnel that will start from al-Mughrabi Gate and lead to a four-story parking garage under the current parking space close to the Western Wall. The parking structure would be able to hold some 600 vehicles.
Israel claims that the construction will not affect the foundations and the archeological layers of the city. However, The Jerusalem municipality stated that one of the main obstacles to the new plan is its high cost, estimated at several millions of dollars.
1898 marked the last time an opening was made into Jerusalem’s ancient city walls. In that year, the Ottoman empire breached the wall in an area near the Jaffa gate in order to allow passage wide enough for the carriage of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II when he visited the city.
The new plan was prepared by architect David Shriki and was drawn by architect Gavriel Kertesz. Haaretz reported that it is designed to accommodate thousands of tourists and visitors to the Western Wall, but that it faces opposition from both Jewish inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter, and Islamic leaders.
The Planning Committee of the Jerusalem Municipality did not yet hold a vote on the plan, but intends to continue itsdeliberations next week.