The Western Wall
The Western WallIsrael news photo: Yishai Fleisher

Arabs are fighting plans for an elevator to allow disabled Jews to reach the Western Wall, claiming the project is a threat to the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.

The 56-meter elevator would be located in the Jewish Quarter next to the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva, according to the media watchdog Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA).

The Al Aqsa Foundation, however, claimed Monday the $10 million structure is to be located adjacent to the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, and is whipping up a frenzied protest against the project.

The location of the elevator, to be named after Baruch Klein, the American businessman funding the project – and the yeshiva – is actually far from the mosque, on the other side of the Western Wall plaza.

But the project is being seen by the Al Aqsa Foundation as a threat to the Al Aqsa Mosque, according to the Palestinian Authority-linked Ma'an news agency.

The Al Aqsa Foundation also claimed in a statement that the area in front of the wall could be used as a base from which to attack the mosque compound. Moreover, it said the project was intended to prevent Muslim worshipers from reaching the mosque, while increasing the presence of Jews in the area.

The mosque, which sits atop the Temple Mount and adjacent to the Western Wall, is considered Islam's third holiest site. The Temple Mount on which it is built, however, is the holiest site in the Jewish faith, and is where the Holy of Holies in both the First and Second Temples was located.

Previous Arab and Muslim incitement over building projects in the Jewish quarter of the Old City has led to riots and attacks on Jewish civilians. In June 2007 the construction of a pedestrian pathway near the Western Wall was met with Arab riots in Jerusalem and terrorist rocket attacks from Gaza, in September 2009 several people were wounded in a Muslim riot that began when a group of Jews attempted to tour the Temple Mount, and in early 2010 riots broke out across Jerusalem over the restoration of the Hurva synagogue in the Jewish quarter.