Israel had a record year for tourism in 2013. Some 3.5 million people visited the Holy Land, 53% of whom were Christians.
Palestinian and Jordanian officials are eager to draw more tourists of all kinds, including Christians, and believe they have sites that can and should draw pilgrims.
- The site where Jesus was baptized and began His ministry along the Jordan River
- Mount Nebo, where Moses saw the Promised Land and later died and was buried by God
- Petra, where some scholars believe certain End Times prophecies will occur
- The Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field in Bethlehem
- The historic ruins of Jericho, in modern Jericho (one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world)
Indeed, some — myself included — believe the Jordan-Jericho-Jerusalem corridor represents enormous potential for increased Christian tourism that would also be a blessing to the economies of Jordan, the Palestinians and Israel, and perhaps for peace between all three, as well.
In this context, I found this headline on an Israeli website intriguing: “Largest tourism project in West Bank gets underway — Billionaire Munib al-Masri’s Gate of Jericho plan to feature a series of high-level hotels over 740 acres outside Jericho.”
The largest tourism project in the Palestinian-controlled territories in the West Bank is taking off.
This week, bulldozers, funded by Palestinian company Padico Holdings, began construction work on the Gate of Jericho.
The ambitious plan will include the establishment of a series of hotels that will include hundreds of rooms, swimming pools, water slides, restaurants and cafes.
The Gate of Jericho project will stretch across a huge area, about 740 acres wide, south of Jericho, toward the Dead Sea, over a swath of land in the Palestinian-controlled Area A.
In recent years, the land was covered in palm trees belonging to Padico.
The holding company’s new plan was approved by Israel, partly because the construction in its entirety is taking place in Palestinian-controlled area. Padico, the largest Palestinian company in the West Bank, is owned by the billionaire Munib al-Masri, who lives in Nablus. The company oversees dozens of projects throughout the Middle East.
- Besides its ambitious tourism project, it is clear that the PA has made significant efforts to settle the area around Jericho in the Jordan Valley, in order to establish control of land….
- The intent of the Authority is to strengthen the Palestinian presence in the West Bank, though the only area where Palestinians can build without Israeli approval is around Jericho.
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