Pope's visit to cost state NIS 43 million

Government ministries, the police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) are gearing up for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI and have drawn up a wide-ranging plan to prepare for the occasion, which is expected to cost the state NIS 43 million. The Pope is scheduled to arrive in Israel on May 11 and depart on May 15, in a visit which could improve the strained relations between the Vatican and the Jewish people. Pope Benedict has faced an uproar from Jewish groups and the German government following his decision to reverse an excommunication of Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson. The less than ideal state of relations have not deterred the government from deciding to classify the visit as "high priority" and to allocate large resources and funds in honor of Benedict's arrival.