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Travel advisory emphasizes protections for tourists in Israel, West Bank

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The latest U.S. travel advisory to Israel and the West Bank praises Israel and the Palestinian Authority for their "considerable efforts" to protect tourists and says conditions in Tel Aviv and Haifa are "comparable to or better than" other major cities in the world.

The State Department advisory issued Thursday rolls back the level of alarm in a series of recent advisories, while still advising caution in visiting Israel and the West Bank, and advising against visiting the Gaza Strip.

"Over three million foreign citizens, including hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens, safely visit Israel and the West Bank each year for study, tourism, and business," according to the advisory. "The Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority make considerable efforts to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations."

It continues by outlining suggested restrictions.  

"Nonetheless, U.S. citizens should also take into consideration that U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use public buses due to past attacks on public transportation and that U.S. government personnel must notify the Embassy’s Regional Security Officer before traveling in the areas surrounding Gaza and south of Beersheva," the advisory says. "Furthermore, U.S. government personnel are restricted from conducting personal travel to most parts of the West Bank."

The West Bank exceptions, it says, are Jericho and Bethlehem.

U.S. travel advisories over the last six months have tended to emphasize the likelihood of outbreaks of violence.

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