Ministers decided Monday to postpone a hearing on a proposal to cancel the visa requirement for Russian tourists. The meeting was postponed after a meeting earlier in the day led to arguments.
The plan to allow Russian tourists into Israel without visas was proposed by Tourism Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch, who argued that canceling the visa requirement would encourage tens of thousands of Russian tourists to visit Israel each year. Minister of Internal Security Avraham Dichter opposed the proposal, saying that Israel has fought trafficking in prostitutes for years, and that removing the visa requirement would make it easier for pimps and prostitutes to enter from Russia.
Aharonovitch rejected Dichter’s argument, pointing out that fewer than 200 Russian prostitutes have been arrested in the past three years, and arguing that organized crime could be prevented without a lengthy visa application process. MK Zahava Gal-On criticized Dichter as well, accusing him of giving a bad name to Russian immigrants and tourists.