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Passover in Sinai? Government to formulate tourism plan within a week

Ministerial team said likely to okay limited travel to and from peninsula as early as this month; Taba crossing opens Thursday for a few hours to let stranded Israelis in

Illustrative: Israelis enjoy the beach of Paradis Sweir, a desert resort located on the Red Sea shore, South Sinai, Egypt, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, October 15, 2016. (Johanna Geron/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israelis enjoy the beach of Paradis Sweir, a desert resort located on the Red Sea shore, South Sinai, Egypt, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, October 15, 2016. (Johanna Geron/Flash90)

Some Israelis may be allowed to spend the upcoming Passover, which celebrates the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, on vacation in the Sinai Peninsula.

The government on Thursday approved a proposal by Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen to form a ministerial committee that will within a week formulate a plan to let a limited number of Israelis travel to and from Sinai via the Taba border crossing.

According to Farkash-Hacohen’s proposal, the arrivals from Sinai will be part of the 3,000 Israelis currently allowed to enter the country every day. Entry has been limited to prevent the potential arrival of new mutated strains of the coronavirus that may prove resistant to the current vaccines.

The ministerial team will include Farkash-Hacohen, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Transportation Minister Miri Regev.

Illustrative: The Taba crossing on the Israeli-Egyptian border, near Eilat. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Channel 12 news reported that the plan will likely restart Sinai travel in early April or even before. Passover begins March 27.

The report said travelers will be required to have a document proving they have either been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, and also undergo a PCR test.

Blue and White party member Orit Farkash Hacohen votes during the Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, January 13, 2020 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Meanwhile, the Taba crossing was set to open Thursday for several hours to let dozens of Israelis return to Israel after being stranded in Sinai for weeks.

The Taba crossing has been closed since the start of the pandemic, and has been opened occasionally to let Israelis in. But since Israel sealed its borders on January 26, the crossing has remained shut and Israeli travelers who arrived in the peninsula by flight have thus far been unable to return.

Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi, who is running in the upcoming March 23 Knesset elections in Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party, has slammed the Tourism Ministry’s push for travel to and from Sinai, arguing that the government was prioritizing international tourism over internal tourism.

“Instead of helping the tourism city of Eilat, which was dealt a very hard financial blow and is still financially bleeding, the tourism minister is encouraging citizens to go on vacations abroad,” he told the Ynet news site.

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