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Palestinians Want Tourists to Spend Time on the West Bank

A bid to boost commerce, but Israeli occupation makes it tough.

And now a message from the Palestinian Authority: Walk in the footsteps of Jesus, enjoy some savory hummus and stuffed grape leaves, and please, please, please spend the night. If you squint, you might not see the watchtowers, barbed wire, and rifle-toting Israeli soldiers.

The Palestinian government is making a push to attract tourists to Bethlehem, Jericho, Hebron, and other historic religious sites—going so far as to call Jesus “the first Palestinian.” While tourism to Israel has steadily increased in recent years, Palestinian-controlled lands—which include many of the major Biblical sites—have seen scant benefit as Israel maintains a tight military grip over the West Bank.