Israel hopes pope helps image, brings cash
April 7, 2009
NAZARETH, Israel (AFP) — The din of earthmovers and a cloud of dust rise over Mount Precipice as workers scramble to get ready for a papal visit that Israel hopes will bring in tourist dollars and rave reviews.
The Jewish state is pumping some 10 million dollars (7.5 million euros) into preparations for Pope Benedict XVI's May 11-15 visit to the Holy Land that will bring tens of thousands of pilgrims to Israel.
It also hopes the papal trip will help polish Israel's international image in the wake of the Gaza war ...
"We are working under a lot of pressure to finish it in time," says Ishai Soker of the non-profit Jewish National Fund, owned by the World Zionist Organisation, which is financing the project together with local and national authorities ...
"Many people, including among the clergy, were not pleased with the visit coming at this time," says Odeh, referring to calls for Benedict to shun Israel to protest the war on the Gaza Strip that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians ...
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