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  Sunday, October 25, 2020
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The number of Russians visiting Israel could double or even treble
The number of Russians visiting Israel could double or even treble if a visa-free system is introduced between the countries, a former head of the Russian Jewish Congress said on Thursday.

"The number of Russian visitors to Israel could exceed 250,000 people annually in the next three years," said Vladimir Slutsker, a member of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament.

Russia and Israel announced late last year that a feasibility study for a project to cancel visas had been concluded, and the two countries launched domestic procedures for drafting a corresponding agreement.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, currently on an official visit to Moscow, told a meeting with Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov earlier on Thursday that coordination of the agreement was currently being concluded.

Slutsker said that of more than 2 million tourists who visited Israel in 2007, half a million were U.S. nationals followed by 250,000 French visitors. Russian tourists held third place with more than 100,000 people.

He said visa-free travel between the two countries would be both economically useful and historically natural. He said immigrants from Russia and other former Soviet republics accounted for over 1 million of Israel's 7 million citizens. Visits to friends and relatives would probably rise dramatically if visas were lifted, he said.


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