NABLUS, West Bank — On a Saturday in Nablus, people are lining in front of the al-Aqsa sweet shop. The place is packed. Staff member Mohammad al-Nabulsi says the shop receives more customers on the weekends than on weekdays because of Palestinians visiting Nablus from Israel. On weekends, the shop operates at a faster tempo to fill the large number of requests for kunafa, a Levantine cheese pastry.
A Palestinian woman buys candies from a vendor at a market in Nablus, Sept. 30, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini)
In the last four years, some 90,000 Palestinians from Israel have been crossing into the West Bank annually, after a long hiatus that began with the 2000 intifada, when the security situation prohibited such travel or made it too difficult.
Raja al-Khalidi, a researcher at the Center for Development Studies at Birzeit University, spoke to Al-Monitor about his findings on Palestinians from Israel visiting the West Bank. According to his research, more than 1 billion shekels (some $3 million) are being pumped into the Palestinian economy each year as a result of such tourism. The number of visits has increased from 840,000 in 2012 to 950,000 in 2015, constituting some 30% of tourist visits to the West Bank.
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