DATES AND VENUE
The ICCG 2015 will start on Sunday 26 July 2015 at 13:30 in Ramallah. The registration counter will be open at 10:00.
We strongly recommend however that participants arrive one day earlier, on Saturday 25 July 2015, and spend the night in Jerusalem where we are organising a pre-opening plenary in the garden of the Kenyon Institute. The idea is not only to give you the opportunity to discover the city of Jerusalem but most importantly to facilitate transit through Israeli borders and thus access to Palestine. Israeli border controls are generally bothersome, especially as ethnic and political profiling is an extended practice. Travellers explicitly stating desire to travel to Ramallah or other locations in the West Bank are often retained for questioning and sometimes denied entry. Having a reservation (and thus an address and telephone) in any establishment providing accommodations in the city of Jerusalem enormously facilitates the entry process and allows you to have a comfortable transit to Ramallah the next day in less than an hour. Besides the information below, additional tips about going through Israeli border controls have been sent to registered participants.
In Ramallah, the conference will take place at the Campus of the Friends Boys School located at the center of city. The campus is at walking distance from several accommodation possibilities, and few minutes from the bus stations connecting the city with Jerusalem and other cities in the West Bank.
TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION
There are several routes for internationals to enter Palestine. Before detailing the different routes, please read carefully through the following general remarks and recommendations to make your trip as smooth as possible:
Visa: Israel has visa exemption agreements with many countries – for visits up to 90 days. You can check whether you need to obtain a visa via the Israeli Consular Services site and/or by checking with the Ministry/Office of Foreign Affairs of your home country or the Embassy/Consulate General of Israel at your home country
Airlines: The Israeli airline “El Al” generally has its independent security checks on top of the regular security systems of airports worldwide. These checks are often and reportedly lengthy, disrespectful, and invasive. Hence, we recommend that you consider alternative airlines. When booking also note that El Al can be the carrier for other companies’ flying into Israel.
Timing: We encourage you to keep in mind that the conference is taking place within the high tourism season of the region. This means that prices will start soaring very soon, so please do your necessary bookings as soon as possible.
OPTION 1 | BEN GURION AIRPORT – TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
The most straightforward and economic route, and the one we recommend, is to fly to the Israeli Ben Gurion Airport (Greater Tel Aviv Area). After arrival there are several options to reach Jerusalem:
Taxi: Israeli Taxis at the airport cost NIS 400 (€80) per car and take about 45 minutes to reach East Jerusalem. These taxis do not travel to Ramallah, but if you would like to go directly there is an option to book Palestinian-Israeli taxis. These are not based at the airport; hence require pre-booking and coordination (minimum 48 hours). They also cost around NIS 400 (€80) per car and take about 45 minutes. For this service you can contact Salah Najeeb [+972-(0)522-860-975] or Fadi Najeeb [+972-(0)543-983-346].
Mini-bus: “Nesher Sherut” provides shuttle services from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem. The shuttles are mini-buses seating approximately 8-10 people that will take you to the door of the wished destination within the Jerusalem area. You will find the shuttle buses immediately at your right hand side when you exit the Arrivals hall. The shuttle will not leave until all or most of the seats have been filled. When approaching the drivers mention your area of destination in Jerusalem and they will direct you to the appropriate minibus. If you did not book accommodation and you’re headed to East Jerusalem then your best destination is ‘Damascus Gate’ or Jerusalem Hotel. The service costs NIS 65 (€13) and the duration is about an hour depending on the destination of the other passengers. Sheruts run 24/7 around the clock. We recommend this option.
Bus: Egged buses airport connections will stop at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station (JCBS) in West Jerusalem, which is far from Damascus Gate. These are cheaper – approx. NIS 25 (€5) per passenger and take about 90 minutes to reach Jerusalem. They are available every 20 minutes, but do not work during Shabat. Once you arrive in JCBS you will have to go through security, then follow the people downstairs to the exit. There is a tram station just outside from where you can take the tram to Damascus Gate stop. Click here for more information about working hours and routes. To be clear, for persons traveling to East-Jerusalem this option is more lengthy and painstaking.
OPTION 2 | QUEEN ALIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – AMMAN, JORDAN
This option entails entering Palestine by land via the Allenby Bridge, the crossing that connects Jordan to the West Bank. This route is much longer, far more expensive, very crowded throughout the summer, and implies combining several means of transportation (taxis and buses). It requires going through Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian border controls and is thus lengthy and painstaking. Under this option a transit visa for Jordan might be necessary, hence make sure to check whether your travel documents allow you to acquire one at the Queen Alia Airport after landing, or whether it needs to be processed beforehand.
From Queen Alia Airport to Allenby Bridge
Taxi: A taxi costs JD 35 (€44) and will take about 1 hour to reach Allenby Bridge. With your back to the Arrivals hall of Queen Alia Airport, walk about 200 meters leftwards to get to where taxis are stationed. You will receive a confirmation from the staff — which is your receipt — before boarding in a car marked with the logo of the Airport-Taxis. Note that at rush hours there could be fewer or none parked, so please ask and beware of unlicensed drivers.
Bus: There are shuttle buses to Amman city, and from there you can take a connection to the Allenby Bridge. The ride costs about JD 15 (€18) and the trip takes about 3 hours. At low-traffic hours (e.g. late evening or dawn) it can take up to 5 hours. If you opt for the shuttle bus request from the driver to tell you when you arrive at the station in Amman from which the Allenby Bridge connection leaves.
From Allenby Bridge to Jerusalem (when done with the Israeli border controls)
Taxi: Israeli Taxis at the Allenby Bridge cost NIS 450 (€90) per car and take about 45 minutes. These taxis also travel to Ramallah if you so wish.
Mini-bus: “Sheruts” are mini-buses seating approximately 8-10 people that will take you to the door of the wished destination. The shuttle will not leave until all or most of the seats have been filled. When approaching the drivers mention your area of destination in Jerusalem and they will direct you to the appropriate minibus. If you’re headed to East Jerusalem then your destination is ‘Damascus Gate’. The service cost NIS 40 (€8) and the duration is about 45 minutes depending on the destination of the other passengers. We recommend this option.
From Allenby Bridge to Ramallah (when finishing the Palestinian border controls)
Taxi: There are no Taxis stationed at the terminal of the Palestinian border control, however, sometimes one could find one. In such a case the fare would be NIS 160 (€36) per car and take about 45 minutes.
Mini-bus: When you leave the building you will find small ford transporters known as ‘servees’. They are lined according to destination, under a sign that states the city and the fare. Ask for Ramallah and you will be directed to the appropriate car. Once every seat is occupied the drive starts, stay in the servees until you reach the bus station at the city’s center. A ride costs to Ramallah costs NIS 45 (€10). You can ask them to drop you at your hotel in exchange for additional NIS 10. This will take anything between 1-3 hours in daytime and rush hours, and 45 minutes at low-traffic times.
TRAVELLING FROM JERUSALEM TO RAMALLAH
Bus: Buses travelling to Ramallah can be found in the station near Damascus Gate, about 200m from the old city walls. Buses are white with green stripes; you will be looking for buses number “218” (longer route, takes about 80 minutes), or those with number “219” (express route, 50 minutes). The ticket costs about NIS 7 (€1.5). You have to remain in the bus until the end station that is Ramallah city. Note that buses run from early morning until 22:00 / 23:00 in the summer. We recommend taking this option.
Taxi: Israeli taxis do not travel to Ramallah, but can drop you mid-way at the Qalandiya Checkpoint. The fare will differ depending on your starting point in Jerusalem, please ask driver about the estimate. After crossing on foot through the revolving metal gates you can take one of the Palestinian taxis waiting on the other side to your destination. Please note that these have no “taxi-meters”, and some drivers might demand over-priced fares. Hence before starting your ride please agree with the driver on the price. From the checkpoint to about anywhere in Ramallah should cost around NIS 30-35 (€7-8), and at no point should it exceed NIS 40 (€9). This option requires less than an hour unless there is a traffic jam, which happens at rush hours. Also, there are Palestinian-Israeli drivers that drive into Ramallah. Some can be ordered spontaneously. In due time we will provide suggestions and respective contacts.
Ramallah has various accommodation options, yet many of these service-providers remain unreachable through online booking sites, and only few have websites. Click here to view our tips, suggestions and recommendations in this regard.