A QUIET forest section of the INT in the Jerusalem foothills between Srigim/Li’on and Tel Azeka, near where David battled Goliath..
(photo credit: ARYEH GREEN)
The government voted Sunday to extend the sites on the Israel trail to include Jerusalem as it prepares to market the popular hiking path that stretches from the country’s North to the South as an international tourist site.
Throughout its 22-year history, the trail has not included Jerusalem nor crossed the Green Line into sites in Area C of the West Bank.
The Gush Etzion Field School said it believed the new trail would include historic sites in Judea and Samaria. But the Tourism Ministry said it was not yet clear what sites would be on the trail’s extension.
“The government has now authorized an inter-ministerial team to develop a strategic plan for the trail within 120 days so that it can bring international tourists to the site,” the ministry said. “It’s the first time the government has become involved in the trail.
“The actual route of the trail, which will be determined by the inter-ministerial committee, will include Jerusalem and those relevant areas not currently within the scope of the Israel trail.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The Israel Trail has tourist and historical implications. This is what is needed in terms of the tourism potential. On a personal note, I have walked thousands of kilometers. There is nothing that connects one more to love of the homeland than walking through the verses of the Bible
, the history of the Second Temple period and the establishment of the State of Israel. We have beautiful countryside and a rich history. I will try to walk through parts of it. This is an outstanding enterprise.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said: “The decision to construct a tourist trail throughout the length and breadth of Israel is an important decision against the background of the all-time record-breaking figures in incoming tourism and the efforts to add tourist attractions that will benefit visitors and tourists in Israel.
“The path will expose tourists to Israel’s landscapes and sites and will bring hikers to all parts of the country, including the periphery, thereby making significant economic contributions to these areas,” he said.