Israel working on easy visa regime to encourage Indian pilgrimsJuly 25th, 2008 - 10:35 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Israel is planning to come out with an “easy visa” policy that will allow a large number of Indians to visit Israel for religious pilgrimage, Israeli Ambassador Mark Sofer said here Friday. “We don’t have any specific visa now for pilgrims like some other countries do, but we are working at something that will encourage more people to visit Israel easily for pilgrimage,” Sofer said.
He was speaking at a function here Friday after the Israeli mission launched two websites in Hindi and Urdu to reach out to a large number of people in India.
Sofer said attempts would be made to come out with websites on other Indian languages like Bengali and Telugu as well.
Asked whether by reaching out to more people from India, Israel would also try to encourage large number of Muslims, Christians and Jews in the country to visit the holy sites in the country, Sofer said all efforts are being made in this direction.
“We are making efforts to make it easier for pilgrims from all religions to visit Israel,” Sofer added.
Stressing the large interest Indians have for Israel and the warm feelings they have for the country, the ambassador said these feelings were reciprocated by large number of Israelis.
“There is awe and admiration for India in Israel… everything that you stand for, everything that you have given to the world - your history, your culture, your civilization,” Sofer said.
He pointed out that more than 700 Israeli students were learning different Indian languages that include Hindi, Sanskrit and Malayalam and these courses are being conducted in four major Israeli universities.
“We have excellent government-to-government contacts. But we want to develop and strengthen people-to-people contact between our two countries. That is the most important thing that can sustain our relations,” the Israeli ambassador said.