Perched atop a West Bank hill, the Binyamin region visitors center invites travelers to look past the military jeeps patrolling the surrounding area and enjoy nature, archaeological sites and bucolic vineyards.

Jewish settlers are promoting tourism to draw Israelis who might otherwise never set foot in the West Bank, an occupied area Palestinians want as part of a future state.

Proponents hope that drawing visitors will help increase support for retaining the territory, while critics say the tourism campaign, like Jewish settlements, is a foothold that stands in the way of making peace.

The Binyamin region — named for the Hebrew tribe of Benjamin, thought to have lived here in biblical times — is a short drive from population centers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; its boosters call it “the heart of Israel.”

Continue Reading on