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A room in the house Biblical Shiloh, West Bank (photo: Airbnb)

Israel to fund hotels in West Bank: report

The country’s tourism ministry says it will subsidise accommodation in Judea, Samaria, Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.

Israel’s government says it will subsidise hotels in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank as part of a plan to attract more tourists to the area.

According to an article in the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, Israel’s Tourism Ministry “will aid entrepreneurs who want to invest in building or expanding hotels in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank]”.

The entrepreneurs can now apply for a grant of up to 20% of their intended investment, in a scheme that implements a government decision from 2016.

A meeting held earlier this year between members of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organisation of municipal councils of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and managers of travel agencies in Judea and Samaria pointed to a lack of accommodation, the report says.

This is prompting tourists to avoid staying in the area for more than a day, the meeting concluded.

Guest units
The government grants, according to the article, “are intended to encourage investors to open additional guest units in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley”.

“We thank [Tourism] Minister Yariv Levin [Likud] for his important work on the issue of tourism in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley,” Yesha Council Chairman Hananel Dorani responded.

“Building hotels and guest houses in the area is an important step which shows the deepening of our roots in the ground and paves the way for Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.”

Last November, the home-sharing site Airbnb removed Jewish settler homes in the occupied West Bank from its rental listings. But in April it backtracked on the plan, in order to end lawsuits brought by the hosts in a class action suit.

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