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      IDF’s ‘Xmas Goodwill’ Eases PA Arab Travel into Israel

      The IDF is significantly easing travel limits for Arabs during the Christian holidays and is allowing an unlimited number of Arabs to enter Israel
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 12/24/2009, 1:07 PM / Last Update: 12/24/2009, 1:10 PM

      Israel news photo

      The IDF, in another “goodwill” measure, is significantly easing travel limits for Palestinian Authority Arabs during the Christian holidays and is allowing an unlimited number of Arabs to enter Israel. The changes were made after security assessments by the military establishment.

      An unlimited quota of one month-long permits allows PA Arabs to enter Israel for religious and family gatherings. More than 10,000 permits have been issued so far in addition to permission for 300 Christians from Gaza, ages 35 and up, to enter Judea and Samaria for a limited time.

      In addition, Major-General Eitan Dangot, head of Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) along with Civil Administration head Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, met with patriarchs and heads of churches from Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

      Tourists, senior religious officials, priests, and pilgrims will be allowed to enter Bethlehem, where foreign diplomats are expected to visit during the holidays.

      However, the Palestinian Authority has placed restrictions on a British choir group, forbidding it to appear in eastern Jerusalem or Bethlehem because it accepted an invitation to perform with an Israeli orchestra.