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Israel reopens borders to small groups of foreign tourists

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Israel reopened its borders to foreign tourists on Sunday after a fall in COVID-19 infections but said it would take time for visitors to start arriving and to revive the tourism industry.

Under an easing of coronavirus restrictions, the government went ahead with a plan to start letting in small groups of tourists from countries using vaccines it has approved.

Foreign airlines are also resuming flights they suspended when Palestinian militants began rocket attacks on Israel this month. A ceasefire has now halted the fighting, helping the government meet Sunday’s target date for starting the plan.

But registration for the Tourism Ministry’s plan opened only last week, so the number of visitors will initially be limited.

“It is unlikely that the first groups will arrive before the beginning of June,” a Tourism Ministry spokeswoman said.

Tourism in 2019 hit a record high of 4.55 million visitors, contributing 23 billion shekels ($7.1 billion) to Israel’s economy, mainly via small and mid-sized businesses.

Under a pilot programme due to continue until June 15, Israel gave the green light to visits by 20 groups of between 5 and 30 tourists from countries including the United States, Britain and Germany.

Another 20 groups were chosen to be on standby if any of the first 20 tour operators did not meet Israel’s conditions.

Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said the ministry was working to allow more tourists to enter to “rehabilitate the tourism industry and bring hundreds of thousands of people back into the workforce”.

Israeli authorities believe that initially limiting tourism to small groups is the best way to monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19, especially new variants. The plan is to boost the number of groups in June and allow individual tourists to start visiting in July.

Visitors will need to show negative PCR tests before flying and to undergo further tests on arrival.

Israel has fully vaccinated about 55% of its population and COVID-19 cases have dropped sharply.

El Al Israel Airlines Chairman David Brodet said separately on Sunday that he would step down. The government approved a $210 million bailout package for El Al this month that was conditional on steep spending cuts and the airline’s owners injecting more cash.

($1 = 3.2538 shekels)

 

(Reporting by Steven Scheer, Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Timothy Heritage)

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Teamsters votes to fund and support Amazon workers

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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada, said on Thursday it has voted to formalize a resolution to support and fund employees of Amazon.com Inc in their unionization efforts.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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Citigroup names new sales head for Treasury and Trade Solutions unit

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Citigroup Inc has named Steve Elms as the new sales head for the bank’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) unit effective immediately, according to an internal memo shared by a company spokesperson.

Elms, who will oversee the management of the global sales teams, has been involved with the bank’s TTS division for over 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

TTS is a division of the bank’s Institutional Clients group. The segment offers cash management and trade services and finance to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations around the world.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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Indigenous group finds 751 unmarked graves at former residential school in Saskatchewan

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An indigenous group in Canada’s Saskatchewan province on Thursday said it had found the unmarked graves of 751 people at a now-defunct Catholic residential school, just weeks after a similar discovery rocked the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “terribly saddened” by the new discovery at Marieval Indian Residential School about 87 miles (140 km) from the provincial capital Regina.

He told indigenous people that “the hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada’s responsibility to bear.”

It is not clear how many of the remains detected belong to children, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters.

He said the church that ran the school removed the headstones.

“We didn’t remove the headstones. Removing headstones is a crime in this country. We are treating this like a crime scene,” he said.

The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families and brought them to Christian residential schools run on behalf of the federal government.

“Canada will be known as a nation who tried to exterminate the First Nations. Now we have evidence,” said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

“This is just the beginning.”

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which published a report that found the country’s residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, has said a cemetery was left on the Marieval site after the school building was demolished.

Cowessess First Nation has been in touch with the local Catholic archdiocese and Delorme said he is optimistic they will provide records allowing them to identify the remains.

“We have full faith that the Roman Catholic Church will release our records. They haven’t told us ‘No.’ We just don’t have them yet.”

The Cowessess First Nation began a ground-penetrating radar search on June 2, after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia outraged the country.

The Kamloops discovery reopened old wounds in Canada about the lack of information and accountability around the residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families and subjected them to malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse.

Pope Francis said in early June that he was pained by the Kamloops revelation and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples. But he stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Moira Warburton in VancouverEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)

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