Israeli Travel Agent: Egypt Safer for Israelis than Jordan
The killing of an Israeli merchant, Yitzhak Snir, in Amman on Monday has fueled feelings that Jordan is not safe for Israelis. Travel agents have said that Egypt is safer than Jordan for Israeli tourists, according to a report by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
"In my view, it is really dangerous to go to Jordan. I personally won't go to Jordan," said Ze'ev Refael, director of Mezada Tours, which has sent thousands of Israelis and foreign tourists to Jordan and Egypt.
Israel's ambassador to Amman, David Dadon, recommended Tuesday that Israelis avoid visiting Jordan, with whom Israel has had diplomatic ties and a peace agreement since 1994.
Speaking in an interview on Israel Radio on Wednesday, Dadon said that it was hard to advise Israeli businessmen to abandon their investments in Jordan, but said that those who had to visit Jordan did so in coordination with the Israeli embassy in Amman.
Refael added that in his view it is a mistake for Israelis to shun Egypt. Jordan, he told the paper, is dangerous because of the large Palestinian population there, many of them with relatives in the West Bank and Gaza.
According to the figures of the Airports Authority, which is also in charge of land-crossing points, about 157,000 Israelis crossed to Egypt between January and June this year, compared to 174,000 in the first half of 2000, a drop of almost 10 percent.
There was a far greater drop - over 70% - in the number of Israelis going to Sinai via the Taba border crossing south of Eilat: some 99,000 between January and June, compared to 334,306 in the same period last year, said the report.
Arkia, the Israeli airline flying between Israel and Jordan, would not comment on its passenger figures when contacted by The Jerusalem Post, saying only that it is operating all flights as scheduled.
Refael said there are still a few Israeli businessmen going to Jordan. In the past, he said, there had been a brisk traffic by Israeli Arabs going to Jordan, but that too has dropped off in the past few months.
As for Egypt, Refael said, virtually the only visits to Sinai are by Israeli Arabs to Sharm e-Sheikh. Some Israeli Arabs are also going to Hurghada, the Red Sea resort on the eastern coast of the Egyptian mainland. There are virtually no Israeli Jews visiting Cairo, Refael said.
However, Refael added that in his view it is a mistake for Israelis to shun Egypt. Jordan, he said, is dangerous because of the large Palestinian population there, many of them with relatives in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that there was evidence indicating that the killing of the Israeli diamond dealer in Amman had political motives.
Snir, 51, a diamond dealer, was shot Monday night in the heart of Amman. Two Jordanian groups claimed responsibility for the attack.
Jordanian police ruled out the possibility that Snir was murdered because he was Israeli, but Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Yoav Biran said there was evidence indicating that the motive was political, according to Haaretz newspaper -- Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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