Urgent Update: Visa Situation in Israel

Dear colleagues and intercessors,

We are still blocked by the visa workers strike within the Israeli government structure, thus denying entry of those CM2 registrants from visa-required countries.

Thank you for your prayers. We are rapidly approaching a final decision point. Per the enclosed press release we are looking at a 9:00 a.m. Israeli time 18 December as a key assessment moment. Two things happen at that hour: first, the final 110 tickets of Africa that have not been purchased from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Togo have to be purchased; and second, the AD2000 Board begins a process of final deliberation on the issues at hand. Already the first CM2 participant has been turned away at the airport due to lack of Israeli visas and the first country delegation has been advised not to come.

The President of Israel has intervened two times without success. A special Press Conference held earlier today was well received. The press release will have wide distribution in the Israeli secular media as well as it will go to 2200 Christian media outlets worldwide.

By 9 a.m. Monday, 18 December, we are scheduled to meet with the Chairman of the striking Labor Union, Natan, to appeal directly to him.

Please pray for a breakthrough and wisdom in the final decisions that need to be made shortly. Thank you for your prayers.

Luis Bush
Jerusalem
December 15 midnight

Press Release
Celebrate Messiah 2000 Conference

December 27-January 2
Jerusalem

In 1995, at a conference similar to CM2000 in Seoul Korea, individuals in respected Christian organizations, both in Israel and the surrounding countries, invited the AD2000 and Beyond Movement to hold their final conference in Jerusalem at the turn of the millennium.

After careful review by the Board members of AD2000 of such a venue for the conference in Jerusalem, the decision was made to proceed. This decision was substantiated by assurances of the government of Israel that all participants of Celebrate Messiah 2000 would be welcome in this country.

For the last five years, considerable energy and money has been invested to make the conference happen. Tour operators are appointed, hotels are booked, the conference venue is ready, the post-conference tour is arranged, and the speakers and musicians are prepared. Most important of all, approximately 1300 delegates, all of them Christian leaders in their own country are ready and willing to come to Israel. This, despite the fact that many of them have been advised by their government not to travel to Israel at this time. Now it seems as though all this effort is wasted, as over 50 percent of the delegates cannot receive permission to enter Israel.

In 1996, verbal assurances were given by the Minister of Tourism, that all delegates to the conference would be welcome and admitted in Israel.

In 1997, in a letter dated 23 July, the Ministry of the Interior stated, "We hereby confirm that entry visas will be granted to all bona fide participants and accompanying persons in the pilgrimage of Celebrate Messiah 2000 if held in Israel in 2000."

In more recent weeks, verbal assurances from the Mayor of Jerusalem and the Minister of the Interior have been given to AD2000 that all delegates would be able to gain entry. Right now, no visas or guarantees have been produced. Nothing is in writing. Without written proof, transit visas cannot be obtained and airlines will not allow participants from visa requiring countries to board their planes.

Many delegates, in particular those who can least afford it, are facing financial hardship, as their see their savings diminish when they cancel their plane tickets and are charged fees by the airlines. All because, they want to come to Israel but are not allowed to! The conference organizers would have taken steps to cancel the conference before the delegates bought their plane tickets had it not been for the verbal assurances AD2000 received, as recent as 14 December, of guaranteed entry.

For the conference organizers, there is a real dilemma. AD2000 is a global movement; they represent Christian believers from nearly every nation, denomination, social and economic persuasion. The Christian church is often perceived as being like a "body." Do they now continue with the conference when over one-half of that body is separated from the other?

We appeal to the government, the labor unions, and organizations and individuals in Israel to assist delegates from around the world to be able to come to Celebrate Messiah 2000 in Jerusalem this Christmas time. We need written documentation allowing the delegates needing visas entry into the country by 9:00am tomorrow morning, (18 December), in order to proceed.

For further information, phone the CM2000 office at the Renaissance Hotel:


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