Israeli guides back in Bethlehem after decade

More than 500 Israelis applied to work in Bethlehem

More than 500 Israelis applied to work in Bethlehem

Israel has lifted a ten-year ban on Jewish and Druze tour guides working in Bethlehem.

The IDF said the shift in policy wa s intended to “contribute to the Palestinian and Israeli economy and promote tourism”.

Israeli tour guides have been unable to work in the city since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000.

But the policy change means tour groups visiting from Israel, many of whom are Christian pilgrims visiting the biblical birthplace of Jesus, will no longer have to change guides as they enter the West Bank.

More than 500 Israelis applied to be able to work in Bethlehem, with 50 chosen from a lottery.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) praised the decision and said it was proof that security had been improved in the area.

A spokesperson for the PA said they hoped the plans would also mean Palestinian tour guides would be permitted to work in Israel.

Last updated: 5:51pm, June 21 2010