JTA NEWS
24 May 2017 - 28 Iyyar 5777 - כ"ח אייר ה' אלפים תשע"ז
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China and Israel agree on 10-year multiple-entry visas for citizens E-mail

Israel’s Interior Ministry has announced that the Chinese Israeli 10-year multiple-entry visa agreement will take effect this month on 11 November. The agreement was signed at the second meeting of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation on 29 March 2016. Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the signing ceremony.

The Chinese-Israeli 10-year multiple-entry visa agreement is another major move after Israel and China agreed on a mutual visa waiver for diplomatic and official passport-holders this January. According to the agreement, Chinese tourists will be able to have multiple entries to Israel, with the maximum duration of each stay being 90 days.

In recent years, ChineseIsraeli relations have been developing rapidly in various fields, including intergovernmental platforms such as the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation, and co-operation in trade, bilateral investment, culture, academia and tourism. The visa agreement is expected to continue to strengthen co-operation between the two countries.

China’s tourism industry is the fastest-growing in the world. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Israel has been increasing by 30% annually. Israel welcomes Chinese tourists and hopes that this momentum will be long-lasting.

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Mountain climber dies in India E-mail

While hiking along the Ganges River in India in October, Israeli mountain climber Ariel Freeman, 50, slipped and fell to his death – the latest in a string of hiker fatalities in the area over the past month.

Ariel Freeman, from Moshav Nir Tzvi, was hiking with his wife and fellow trekkers when the tragedy occurred. Those accompanying him were unable to report the incident until they reached an area with cell phone service. His body was recovered at the scene and taken to the police station in the town of Uttarkashi. The Israeli Foreign Ministry assisted the family and the body has since been flown back to Israel for burial.

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More young Jews participating in trips to Israel, says Birthright E-mail

Well over 30,000 young Jews from 59 countries visited Israel over the past summer with Birthright Israel, which offers free 10-day trips to Israel for young Jews aged between 18 and 26.

Birthright announced in October that it will offer a new, seven-day trip to Israel in an effort to allow young professionals to participate in the free trip to Israel.

“The purpose of this trip offering is to allow those who are busy and having a hard time taking off work to still enjoy the trip,” said Noa Bauer, Birthright Israel’s VP of International Marketing. “We’re reaching out to young professionals who are committed to building their careers and can’t seem to take the full 10 days off work.”

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LEADING SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS FROM ASIA CONVENE IN ISRAEL E-mail

A significant and first-of-itskind interfaith programme was held in Jerusalem in September, bringing together leading Asia religious leaders across many faiths. For most of the 25 participants, the visit was their first to Israel.

The five-day programme, “Ancient Traditions Contemporary Realities – A Meeting of Israel-Asia Faith Leaders”, included visits to other parts of the country. The influential Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Shinto, Jain, Taoism and Zoroastrian leaders from China, India, Japan, Myanmar, South Korea and Taiwan engaged with leading Israeli rabbis orthodox and progressive aswell as scholars, and Israel’s top leadership. AJC (the global Jewish advocacy organisation) and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in co-operation with the World Council of Religions, organised the event.

“Expanding our interactions with other faiths is critical to nurturing a more co-operative, productive and peaceful world,” said Rabbi David Rosen, AJC International Director of Interreligious Affairs, who is based in Jerusalem.

Akiva Tor, the head of the Bureau for World Jewish Affairs and World Religions in the Foreign Ministry, explained that given Israel’s strengthening ties with the countries of East Asia, “it is appropriate that we convene a dialogue of civilisations to undergird these growing strategic, political and economic connections with ties of culture, spirit and deep mutual understanding.”

The Sikh representative, Giani Gurbachan Singh, has been called the “Sikh pope”, and Chandanaji is the first woman to attain the most senior position in the Jain religion. One of the Chinese representatives, Xue Cheng, is the president of the Buddhist Association of China, one of the state-approved religious frameworks there. Hsin, from Taiwan, is the influential abbot of a monastery in southern Taiwan that holds one of the relics of Buddha, and Kim Wan Doo from Korea is the head monk at the Seon Sangdo Meditation Center in Seoul, and is basically the supreme patriarch of Korean Buddhism.

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Former Israeli President Shimon Peres dies E-mail

Israel’s elder statesman Shimon Peres passed away at the age of 93 from a stroke on 28 September in a Tel Aviv hospital. World leaders, hundreds of dignitaries and diplomats representing around 70 countries assembled for his funeral on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzyl national cemetery on 30 September.

Born in 1923, Wołożyn, Poland (now Valozhyn, Belarus), he immigrated to Palestine with his family at the age of eleven and grew up in Tel Aviv.

Peres served as both prime minister (1984–86 and 1995– 96) and president (2007–14) and as leader of the Israel Labour Party (1977–92, 1995–97 and 2003–05). Peres was the county’s ninth President.

In 1993, in his role as Israeli foreign minister, Peres helped negotiate a peace accord with Yāsir Arafāt, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), for which they, along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1994. “Now his work is in the hands of Israel’s next generation,” US President Barack Obama said during the funeral. Israel’s Prime Minister Delivering a eulogy, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “That so many leaders came from around the world to bid farewell to Shimon is a testament to his optimism, his quest for peace.” Former US President Bill Clinton, who helped negotiate the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s, said he was Israel’s “biggest dreamer”.

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