Israeli Sources Assert Yemen to Arrange Israeli Tourist Visits [Archives:2000/10/Front Page]

March 6 2000

Israeli diplomats asserted last week that there was a Yemeni-Israeli agreement sanctioning Israelis’ visits to Yemen, though the Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdul Kader Ba Jamal denied this in a report to Al-Shark Al-Awsat newspaper. 
Israeli Newspaper Yidaout Ahranaut , reported that some top Israeli officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid last week secret visits to Yemen, UAE and Bahrain. The newspaper said that officials agreed with Yemeni authorities on allowing Israelis of Yemeni origin to visit Yemen. The Yemeni foreign minister Ba Jamal had earlier denied the existence of such an agreement. 
A source at the Israeli foreign ministry confirmed to the Israeli newspaper that the agreement was reached but date was not fixed and that it seems there is a political sensitivity preventing Yemen from carrying it out. 
He added that Yemen is interested in Israelis visits more than Israel because it wants an organized tourism and the agreement was reached as a result of many contacts conducted in recent months by the Israeli former minister of interior security, a Yemeni-born person and an Israeli businessman from a Yemeni origin now living in the U.S, the Israeli newspaper reported. 
Reliable sources told Yemen Times that there are about 450,000 Yemeni Jews living in Israel and whom Israel wants to facilitate their visits to Yemen. It is said that they will reach Yemen via Jordan; 10,000 Jews will come in a month. 
On the other hand, the Yemeni government denies any secret contacts with Israel, besides the President of the Republic viewed that normalizing relations with Israel will begin following Saudi Arabia agrees first to do so. 
It is also reported that Jews’ visits to Yemen have started some months ago when two rabbis along with Hayim Al-Tawil visited Yemen. It is also expected that a delegation of three rabbis headed by Mossa Al-Shara’abi are going to visit Yemen next April to discuss Yemeni Jews conditions living in different parts of Yemen. The new delegation may also discuss how to carry out Jews’ visits to Yemen.