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Jericho and Ramallah were both nicer towns than I expected. (One can combine them with a visit to Bethlehem, too). The standard of living seemed higher than that of Jordan and definitely above Egypt. There are city development projects underway, many funded by the U.S. program in foreign aid. While the West Bank suffers politically, its economy is moving ahead.
One isn’t touring here so much for shops or even the attractions really (although religious people would appreciate the Biblical components). This tour is to really learn more about the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict and see it all firsthand.
Ok, so I will admit that a visit to the West Bank or what much of the world calls Palestine (inclusive of Gaza) is likely not on the top of most leisure travelers’ lists. However, the West Bank is indeed safe and it’s a worthwhile, enlightening place to tour, especially for those interested in the region’s complex political challenges. During a recent trip to the region, I had the unique opportunity to spend a day in Jericho and Ramallah.
I asked several people if I could enter from Jordan (as I was staying in Amman in the first part of my trip). Asking three people drew three different answers. One said it would be easy to cross over the Allenby Bridge from Jordan into the West Bank, and since I was to be on the Dead Sea (Jordan side) in the morning, Jericho is theoretically just 20 minutes away. But one must cross the Jordanian and then Israeli borders. Another person said, no way, there would be at least a two-hour process going through the Israeli border and then we’d face problems returning to Jordan from the West Bank – not least of which was the border closing by 8pm. Finally, a third said it was doable but complicated from Jordan; better to arrange it from Tel Aviv. That’s what my friend and I chose to do.
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