JERUSALEM (Mar. 14)
The Egyptian authorities are removing some of the obstacles in the way of Egyptian tourists interested in visiting Israel. As a result, according to Moshe Cassuto, head of the Israel Government Tourist Office in Cairo, between 5,000-10,000 Egyptians may come to Israel this year, a major increase though still far less than the number of Israelis who have visited Egypt.
Cassuto disclosed in weekend press interviews that the Egyptian authorities are now issuing second passports to Egyptian citizens, obtainable within 2-4 weeks. The purpose is to avoid having Israeli entry stamps in their original passports which would prevent them from visiting other Arab countries. The Egyptians are also easing the maze of red tape which many Israelis suspected was a bureaucratic device deliberately intended to discourage Egyptians from visiting Israel.
Cassuto’s prediction of increased Egyptian tourism to Israel is expected to produce a more favorable climate at the high level normalization talks that will begin in Tel Aviv tomorrow between Israeli and Egyptian teams headed by Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, respectively. Hassan Ali is also scheduled to meet with Premier Menachem Begin in Jerusalem Tuesday and, separately, with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
Observers expect the matter of President Hosni Mubarak’s long delayed visit to Israel will be discussed. Mubarak was to have come to Israel this month. But he refuses to include Jerusalem on his itinerary and the Israeli government’s position is than unless he does, he would not be welcome. Both governments are reportedly working toward a compromise arrangement. Other issues expected to be raised during Hassan Ali’s three-day visit Include border demarcation problems and the stalled autonomy talks.