By Aryeh Savir/TPS • 30 April, 2019
Israeli leaders in Judea and Samaria welcomed the move by Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin to allocate government funds that will be invested in the construction of hotels and guest houses in Judea and Samaria.
Levin issued the directive after it became apparent that there were not enough rooms to meet the demands of tourists in the region.
Israel’s tourism industry set a historic record in 2018 when four million tourists visited the Holy Land. The steady stream of visitors injected NIS 24 billion into the economy.
Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi, stated that Levin’s decision to build hotels in Judea and Samaria was “the real and Zionist response to the BDS and boycotters.”
Anti-Israel organizations, and chiefly the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, have been active in pressuring entities around the world into boycotting Judea and Samaria, and especially its tourism industry.
Most recently, the Airbnb global tourism company announced that it will not boycott Israeli properties in Judea and Samaria and will not implement its anti-Israel boycott.
The company announced earlier this month that after having settled all lawsuits that were brought by hosts and guests who objected to its policy, Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in Judea and Samaria from their platform.
Airbnb generated an international storm when it decided in November 2018 to delist some 200 Israeli homes in Judea and Samaria because they are located in an area which Airbnb claims is “at the core of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
Revivi congratulated Levin and said that the move will allow “the creation of an army of ambassadors in the world” for the benefit of the Israelis in Judea and Samaria.
“The establishment of hotels in Judea and Samaria will allow more and more tourists from Israel and around the world to come and visit places that are the land of the Bible,” he said.
“The unmediated encounter between the Israelis and the tourists, together with the connection to Jewish history and roots, will be the first step to building an army of ambassadors who will visit here and know about the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb, the Temple of Shiloh and the Herodian,” he added.
The tourists will “also witness the good cooperation between Jews and Arabs, they will see that not every day there is a war and that there is no apartheid, like they are being told,” he said.
Gush Etzion has seen a dramatic increase of about 60 percent in the number of Israeli visitors to the tourist sites since 2015.
Shlomo Ne’eman, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, welcomed Levin’s “strategic move” which “deepens the roots.”
“This is the right thing at the right moment, and this is another step on the way to the application of sovereignty in Judea and the removal of another barrier that has hindered the rights of Israelis in Jude and Samaria,” he said.