Israel Opens West Bank to Jordanians, Other Arabs, for Summer Vacation Visits

Israel has cautiously embarked on an experiment that will permit Jordanians and visitors from other Arab countries to spend their summer vacations with relatives or friends on the West Bank. The first such visitors, Palestinian students enrolled at Arab universities, crossed the Allenby Bridge near Jericho yesterday. According to Col. Shlomo Gazit, director of the military government department of the Israeli General Staff, “the experiment is for one month only” and “after we see how it works we will consider the next batch” of applicants. An initial total of 3.000 applications out of some 10,000 have been approved for the first month. The applications are made by West Bank residents.

Col. Gazit said that the visitors would be permitted to visit Jerusalem in accordance with the Government policy of guaranteeing free access to the Holy Places and that they might apply for permission to travel throughout Israel. He said that one of the aims of the experiment was to let the vacationers see for themselves that conditions on the West Bank are far better than reported in the Arab press. Permission will not be granted the visitors to go to the Gaza Strip. Also barred are applicants for visitors from Egypt, Syria and Algeria, the countries that have taken the most militant stands against Israel. Col. Gazit said that about 40 percent of the applications received to date are on behalf of people living in Jordan, 20 percent on behalf of Arabs from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and the rest for Arabs in 20 other countries. He said that the applicants would be responsible for the behavior of their guests and that if there were any mass demonstrations the program would be stopped.

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