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Tourism Ministry Plans Christian Center

June 1, 2005
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Hirchson made his comments at the monthly meeting of the Knesset (Parliament) Christian Allies Caucus, the increasingly influential cross-party, parliamentarian lobby, which seeks to further Israel’s relations with the Christian world. The caucus, which was established last year with 12 Knesset members from six parties, aims to garner the support of and work with pro-Israel Christians around the world.

“Bringing Christian public figures to Israel is the best way to make them friends and to change their perception about the country,” said caucus cochairman Knesset Member Yuri Shtern (National Union) at the meeting, which dealt with faith-based religious tourism.

Meanwhile, in a move aimed at dramatically lowering the cost of airfare to Israel, Hirchson told the group of Christian leaders who attended the gathering at the Knesset that he has presented the government with a plan to open the skies of Israel’s airspace, rescinding decades-old limitations that have been in place on air-traffic control in the country for the benefit of El Al Israel Airlines.

The high price of airfare to Israel was deemed by participants to be one of the chief impediments to a major influx of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. The tourism minister said that he met with Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss the contentious proposal, which, if authorized, will lead to a major drop in airfare to and from Israel.

Hirchson told the Christian leaders at the meeting that he was also working on organizing special charter flights for Christian pilgrims coming from destinations in the United States that were far from New York.

By Etgar Lefkovits, Jerusalem Post


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