Ma’an News Agency reports here,
France and the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities signed an agreement to build a museum in the city of Bethlehem, under a heritage preservation and promotion project.
The agreement, for some 700,000 Euro ($915,460 US), was signed on Wednesday in Bethlehem, and will finance the establishment of a national museum in the Old City of Bethlehem, the training of museographers in cooperation with French institutions including The Louvre and the French National Heritage Institution, as well as fund long-term planning and management.
The two year project is expected to begin this fall.
It has become difficult for tourists to visit Bethlehem. There are several reasons I can think of at the moment.
- The security wall that Israel has built around Bethlehem. In order to visit Bethlehem the tour bus must pass from Israel into the Palestinian Authority controlled Bethlehem. Going in is often easier than coming out. Most of the time tourists are not required to leave the bus, but sometimes we must leave the bus and walk through the check point. Tourists probably only do this once or twice in their life, but honorable citizens of the PA must go through this every day they work in Israel.
- The Palestinian Authority has not made it easy, either. Buses formerly parked in Manger Square near the Church of Nativity. I think it is good that they now must park in a new parking garage. Drivers should be allowed to drive closer to the center of town to drop off passengers. Some older tourists find it difficult to climb the steep hill to visit the center.
Before I die I would like to see the wall that separates Bethlehem and Jerusalem dismantled and a portion of it placed in the Bethlehem museum as a reminder of the past. This requires an improvement in conditions now existing in the Middle East.
HT: Museum note, Joseph Lauer.