Israel's Cabinet meets in Western Wall tunnels, approves Old City elevator

Trump Netanyahu and Rivlin during a welcome ceremony in Tel Aviv May 22

Trump Netanyahu and Rivlin during a welcome ceremony in Tel Aviv May 22

Dr. Saeb Erekat, the PLO's secretary general, said in a statement that the act was "sabotaging global efforts" and condemned the meeting as a provocation at the beginning of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Noting that it was held in "occupied East Jerusalem", Erekat called the meeting in the tunnels "an attempt by the Israeli government to normalize occupation, oppression and colonization over the land and people of Palestine". Muslims consider the Western Wall part of the Noble Sanctuary, an esplanade that includes Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "assured me he is willing to reach for peace with Israel in good faith, and I believe he will", Trump told US troops in Sicily, while summarizing his first state visit overseas as a "home run".

The worldwide community has never recognized the move.

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"The Government of Israel made the right decision today to make Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall, accessible to people with disabilities by voting to build an elevator and passageway", said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, in a statement.

Jews revere the site, where the two Jewish temples stood in biblical times, as the Temple Mount.

Netanyahu pledged Sunday to plow more resources into developing the area around Jerusalem's Old City and to build a cable auto to improve access to the Western Wall.

The status of Jerusalem is among the most sensitive issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A tunnel opening in 1996 sparked Palestinian protests that led to deadly clashes.

The cable auto project has been discussed for several years, with Israeli officials saying it is needed to ease access to the heavily visited Western Wall.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the cable vehicle "will change the face of Jerusalem, allow easy and convenient access for tourists and visitors to the Western Wall and will serve as an exceptional tourist attraction".

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