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Russian president to inaugurate Jericho museum

Jan. 14, 2011 11:46 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 15, 2011 1:26 P.M.)
JERUCHO (Ma'an) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will be present at the formal opening of the Jericho Museum, built by Russia on lands handed over to the country by Palestinian officials three years earlier.

The museum was built on 105 dunums of land once owned by a Russian Tsar, abandoned during the socialist revolution and handed back over to Russia via the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society in June 2008.

Governor of Jericho Majid Al-Fatyani said the visit had been planned months before, and was set alongside a visit from Medvedev to President Mahmoud Abbas, where the two were scheduled to discuss relations between Palestine and Russia.

The official insisted that the visit was to go ahead, despite rumblings in Israel, where a planned strike in the Foreign Ministry office over wages saw Medvedev cancel his trip. When it became clear that he still intended to visit Palestine during the voyage, workers reportedly threatened to stop him from crossing the Allenby Bridge border crossing into the West Bank.

According to Israeli news site Ynet, Israseli Foreign Ministry officials refused to give the Russian PM a visa and said they would make no arrangement for his trip. On hearing the news, Russian Foreign Ministry officials sent a message to Israel, saying "Don't embarrass us," and reportedly canceled the trip shortly after.

Jericho's Al-Fatyani said preparations to receive the official were ongoing, and promised the event would be hugely popular, coming as Jericho prepares to celebrate its ten thousandth year as a population center.

Mayor of Jericho Hasan Saleh said the opening of the museum and the official visit would go a long way to boost the tourism industry in Jericho, and draw new visitors to the area.
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