Israel: Rolling back tourist visas

Image copyright Shimon Shihabi/AP Image caption Forces in Israel have questioned whether Iranians have been harmed by being excluded from the country Israel has eased restrictions on tourists entering the country from some of…

Israel: Rolling back tourist visas

Image copyright Shimon Shihabi/AP Image caption Forces in Israel have questioned whether Iranians have been harmed by being excluded from the country

Israel has eased restrictions on tourists entering the country from some of its poorer neighbours.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the changes would apply to travellers in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

He was speaking at a joint press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Until now, travellers from countries declared safe by Israel had to apply through diplomatic channels for a tourist visa.

Jerusalem ruled out any resettlement or possible Jewish return to Syria, where it fought a war with Damascus in 1948.

The Israeli defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said all those who had applied in the past would be considered to “freely enter the country and enjoy full residency rights”.

However, all qualified Muslims and Christians would remain banned from entering, he said.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jordan is only the third of the four countries mentioned in the announcement to allow exceptions

In the past, Israelis and Palestinian Arabs from the occupied territories could apply through their embassies.

Visits are still banned from Iran, Sudan and Eritrea.

Mr Netanyahu’s office said the new arrangements would start on Saturday. Jordan and Lebanon had already opened their borders.

Israel this year welcomed for the first time more than a million tourists – its highest level in five years.

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