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Israel and Palestinians Reach Tourism Agreement

At a joint press conference in Jerusalem, Israeli Minister of Tourism Gideon Ezra and Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Mitri Abu Aita signed an historic joint statement pledging to cooperate to promote tourism to the area. This was the first such meeting between the two ministers in four years.

We, Mr. Gideon Ezra, the Israeli Minister of Tourism and Mr. Mitri Abu Aita, the Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities after we met today, would like to announce the following:

Believing that tourism is not only a major economic force, and an important tool for nations' prosperity, but also a means of bringing peace and building bridges of confidence between peoples of the Middle East, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities would like to take the opportunity of the Christmas celebrations  to announce that both Ministries will cooperate in promoting tourism to the Holy Land in international markets,  will take effective measures to assure the safe and smooth passage of pilgrims and tourists visiting the Israeli and Palestinian areas, and will provide the appropriate atmosphere for the private sector in both sides in terms of traffic to assure the best services for tourists and pilgrims to the Holy Land.

We very much appreciate the address of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to the General Assembly of the Italian bishops calling upon them to organize pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

We call upon all tourist entities and Christian communities all over the world to start organizing tours to the Holy Land.

We are waiting for you and looking forward to welcoming you in the Holy Land.

Gideon Ezra                                 Mitri Abu Aita
Israeli Minister of Tourism        Palestinian Minister of Tourism

Israeli Foreign Ministry