WASHINGTON -- Israel's tourism minister said he is "angered and
outraged" that the U.S. State Department has not amended its
long-standing travel warning for Israel, which urges U.S. citizens
to defer visits to the country.
The travel warning for Israel, updated on April 17, cites
"safety and security concerns in Israel, the West Bank, and
But Benny Elon, Israel's minister of tourism, said that the
warning does not necessary reflect the situation in Israel.
"In June alone, 33,436 American tourists visited Israel, a 65%
increase from last year, and the State Department is mistaken to
not amend the warning immediately," said Elon in a statement. Elon
is slated to visit the U.S. starting Tuesday until Aug. 19.
"It is a shame that while so many geopolitical issues have
changed throughout the world since the Iraq War, including the
amendment of travel warnings for American citizens to Holland, the
U.K. and many other countries, the State Department, for political
reasons still hasn't seen fit to amend the warning on travel to
Israel," Elon added.
Elon said he intends "to raise this issue continually" during
his visit, which includes stops in Atlanta, Georgia, and Memphis,
Elon also said there is congressional support to pressure the
State Department into revising the warning.
"I'm sure when he is here, if he has an opportunity, he can talk
to people about it, but these travel warnings are put in place
because we are concerned for the safety of American citizens
aboard," said a spokesman for the State Department. "They have no
time limit, but they are updated periodically as information
becomes available. Sometimes they are canceled as well."
To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].