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Israel's settlement tourism

Following a vast campaign designed to rebrand the West Bank settlements as tourist attractions with guided tours to biblical sites, and to open it up to the Israeli mainstream, the region has become popular with tourists from Israel and overseas.
Wine-grower Gershon Ferency harvests Chardonnay grapes in his vineyard near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Bat Ayin, south of Bethlehem August 20, 2012. Established in 1993, Ferency's winery produces some 6,500 bottles of kosher wine a year using organically grown grapes. REUTERS/Nir Elias (WEST BANK - Tags: FOOD AGRICULTURE) - RTR36ZI0

In April, hundreds of thousands Israelis spent Passover touring the country, just as they do every year. Over the past few years, many Israelis have chosen to visit the sites of Judea and Samaria as their preferred holiday destination. This trend is no coincidence. After years of straddling the delicate boundary between legitimacy and illegitimacy within Israeli society, the people of Judea and Samaria decided to switch tactics. Instead of fighting for the diplomatic legitimacy of the settlement enterprise, they launched a vast tourist campaign to turn Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley into a legitimate tourist destination among the Israeli mainstream.

Publications in 2011 indicated that they have set their goal at half a million visitors in five years. The settlers' tourist campaign recruited at the time Ze'ev Revach, one of Israel’s most popular veteran actors, to represent it, and the main media outlets have also given special treatment to this new initiative.

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