Anti-normalisation activists on Saturday urged Jordanians to refrain from visiting Jerusalem and other sites in Palestine for religious purposes, but travel agents insisted they were within their rights to offer tour packages to these sites.The Al Jazeera version of the story was republished in Al Quds with some additional detail.
Hamzah Mansour, president of the National Committee for Anti-Normalisation, said the committee is considering holding a public event to condemn tourism to Palestine.
In a statement posted on the Islamic Action Front website, Mansour criticised travel agents who promote tours to Jerusalem and called for an end to this practice.
"We noticed an increase in the number of visits to Israel under the pretext of seeing holy sites in Jerusalem and other places. This must stop because it is an act of normalisation," said Mansour, who insists that obtaining a visa from the Israeli embassy in Amman is recognition of Israel's existence.
The Islamist movement opposes peace with Israel and refuses to recognise it.
Mansour, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood shura council and a former MP, accused travel agents of "preying on religious sentiments" by promoting travel to Israel.
Jerusalem is holy to all three monotheistic religions, being home to Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest site, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which Christians believe to be the site of Christ's death and resurrection.
This is the second time in less than two months that activists have spoken out against visits to Israel through tour packages.
There are no official figures on the number of Jordanians who visited Israel for religious purposes, but activists say more such trips were organised last year than in 2008.
Travel agents, however, insist they have committed no wrongdoing.
A travel agent from the city of Fuheis, who preferred not to be named, said the decision whether or not to travel to Palestine should be left up to individual people.
"We don’t force anybody. This is a personal decision. People have the freedom to do what they want. Moreover, even if these places are under Israeli occupation, we must see them because they belong to us, not the Jews," he told The Jordan Times.
The entire story points to a basic truth about many Arabs that needs to be stressed: they hate Israel far more than they love Jerusalem. (And, as we have seen throughout history, their stated love of Jerusalem is directly proportional to the number of Jews there.)
This initiative to stop Arab tourism to holy sites also impacts some other people: the many Arabs who make their livings in the souks of the Old City. Ask them whether they would prefer to see Jordanian tourists or not. The supposed defenders of Islam who are railing against visits to Jerusalem do not care at all about the Palestinian Arabs who are hurt by their decision, showing again that they hate Israel more than they love their Arab brethren.