Could the coronavirus bring peace among Israelis and Palestinians

JERUSALEM POST

The respective governments of the Jewish State and Palestinian territories find themselves united for the first time as they battle against a common enemy.

In a region infamous for its sectarian tension, the coronavirus has catalyzed an unlikely alliance between the Israeli and Palestinian governments. Last Tuesday, the Palestine branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs praised “unprecedented cooperation on efforts aimed at containing the epidemic” between Israeli and Palestinian authorities in their preliminary emergency situation report. The respective governments of the Jewish State and Palestinian territories, in a seemingly eternal state of conflict, find themselves united for the first time as they battle against a common enemy. Despite perpetual tension, the economies of Israel and Palestine are closely intertwined. Both rely heavily on international tourism to their world-famous historic and religious sites. 2019 was a record-breaking year for both economies’ tourism industries; Israel welcomed 4.55 million tourists, the highest number to date, adding 23 billion shekels to the economy, while Palestine also saw record-breaking numbers, surpassing 3 million visitors. Millions of tourists travel to the countries’ holy sites each year, making a pilgrimage to Israel’s Jerusalem and Palestine’s Bethlehem, where Jesus is said to have been born. Just a few kilometers apart, these two cities have been the hardest hit in the region during the pandemic. Numbers of confirmed cases in Jerusalem are over 1,700, while Bethlehem has over 150, with much higher numbers of unconfirmed cases feared by both governments.

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