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Saturday Oct. 2, 2010 6:01 AM (EST+7)
Ancient tree to help turn Jericho into tourist hub

Read more: Jericho, sycamore, bible, religion, Christianity, tourism, Dead Sea, Palestinian state

RAMALLAH, October 2 (JMCC) - A gnarled sycamore tree in the center of Jericho, touted as the same tree climbed by a hated tax collector seeking to see Jesus in a biblical account, is soon to be the center of efforts to revive tourism in the city, reports the AP.

Nearby, a Russian-funded  museum is expected to draw visitors who now rarely linger for more than a few minutes at the site. The plan, to be inaugurated later this month, is part of a larger plan to draw tourism to the Jericho area.

At the Oct. 10 launch of yearlong festivities, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will outline ambitious plans for Jericho, a Jordan Valley oasis that bills itself as the world's oldest and lowest-lying town, at some 780 feet below sea level.

This is to promote Palestine as a destination, Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Daibes said of the venture, which includes a resort to be built on the shores of the nearby Dead Sea. The Palestinians even hope for an airport in the area, though both projects hinge on Israeli approval.

The plans reflect the Abbas government's approach of building a Palestinian state from the ground up, regardless of the ups and downs of negotiations with Israel. Such pragmatism grew out of painful years of conflict, especially in the past decade, when Palestinians across the West Bank saw many economic gains wiped out.

Read the story at AP...







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