Analysis

Holy Land Tourism Falls, Hurting Both Israelis and Palestinians
Top: Foud Twal, the Latin Patriarch of the Holy Land, and clergy pray in the Grotto, where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, in the Church of the Nativity at the conclusion of the Midnight Mass on December 25, 2012 in Bethlehem, West Bank. Bottom: A view of Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity as people gather for Christmas Eve celebrations in Bethlehem, December 24, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)
December 25, 2012
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
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Many lives have been lost in the violent conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza, but the cost to both sides is even greater when the lost economic opportunity is factored in. With roughly 2 billion Christians in the world, a large religious-related tourism industry could be created if a peace settlement were ever reached. Unfortunately, this is a distant hope, as LIGNET explains.Following an especially turbulent period within a region already accustomed to perennial violence, the Holy Land is experiencing one of its more difficult holiday seasons in recent memory. As is the case every Christmas, tourists have pilgrimaged en masse to the small West Bank town of Bethlehem to pay homage to the site widely regarded as the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Their numbers, however, are not what they once were, and that means less economic activity and fewer jobs for both Israelis and Palestinians.
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