The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Kofi Dzamesi, has said that the first batch of Christian pilgrims will be leaving for Israel on July 15.

Mr Dzamesi said on Tuesday that “On the 15th of July, we are doing what I term as a pilot project. We are going with about 100 people. I will lead that group of people. We’ll go to Israel and then once we are there, we’ll be signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Israel and our Ministry so that there will be proper understanding.

"And then we can also involve the Ghana Embassy in Israel so that things can be very smooth for our citizens who want to go to Israel for pilgrimage, so it is very much in the interest of the Israeli government.”

There are concerns from some Ghanaians that the government’s decision to sponsor Christian pilgrims is a misplaced priority.

The Chairman of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Dr Kwadwo Nimfour Opoku Onyinah had indicated that the funds for such sponsorship should be channelled into something profitable for the country.

Mr Dzamesi has, however, reiterated that the government of Ghana is merely facilitating the trip for the pilgrims.

“The facilitation is that there is an amount of money that we’ll pay and that will take care of your ticket, your hotel bills, insurance, your tour guide, your bags, your food [and] everything that will make you go and come back without any hitch. The Ministry facilitates that, but let me make this point clear: government is not paying any money [to any pilgrim],” he told Accra-based Citi FM.