National Catholic Register


Israel Invites Christian Leaders to Prepare for Jubilee

BY Jim Cosgrove

February 14-20, 1999 Issue | Posted 2/14/99 at 2:00 PM


NEW YORK—The Israel Ministry of Tourism will host some 500 Christian leaders from around the world in Jerusalem later this month to review Israel's plans for receiving the millions who are expected to visit the Holy Land leading up to and including the Jubilee Year 2000.

Israel's cities and its tourism industry have spent more than five years planning and building for the enormous influx of visitors and pilgrims, and the Holy Land 2000 Leaders Conference is being mounted to enable Christian leaders to see the developments, including an upgraded infrastructure, according to a press release.

The Christian leaders will be greeted by Israeli President Ezer Weizman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Moshe Katzav, and by Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert. They will also meet with Archbishop Michael Sabbah, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, and with municipal dignitaries in Tel Aviv, Tiberias, and Nazareth.

One of the highlights of Israel's plans for the Jubilee is the $100 million Nazareth2000 project, which has rebuilt Nazareth, the capital of Galilee. Several hotels are under construction in the city, and the ancient downtown quarter is being made accessible to pedestrians. Car traffic is restricted there, and visitors can stroll paths from the Basilica of the Annunciation to Mary's Well, the Synagogue Church, and the old market.

Mitri Abuita, the Palestinian minister of tourism and antiquities, will host delegates for lunch in Bethlehem, which is now administered by the Palestinian National Autonomy. He will review the details of a major improvement program that is already transforming the city's famed Manger Square.

For more information, call the Ministry of Tourism at 1-888-77-ISRAEL, or by e-mail at The ministry's North American web site is www.goisrael. com. (Register Staff)