Saudi says Israeli passport holders cannot visit ‘for now’

Response comes after Israel said citizens have the right to travel to Saudi Arabia for religious and business reasons.

Saudi Arabia''s FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Faisal speaks during a meeting with Greek FM Nikos Dendias at the Foreign Ministry in Athens
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan says Israelis are not welcome in the kingdom [Costas Baltas/Reuters]

Israeli citizens are not welcome to visit Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s foreign minister said, after Israel gave its citizens the green light to visit.

Israel’s Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri said on Sunday said Israeli citizens, both Muslims and Jews, have the right to travel to Saudi Arabia for religious and business visits.

But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a US network on Monday that Israelis are not welcome at the moment in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites.

Like most Arab countries, Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

“Our policy is constant. We don’t have relations with Israel and holders of Israeli passports cannot visit the kingdom for now,” he said, according to CNN’s Arabic website.

Deri said Israelis would be allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia under two circumstances: for religious reasons such as a pilgrimage for the Hajj, or for up to 90 days for business reasons.

Travellers would still need permission from Saudi authorities, Deri said.

Israel has peace deals with only two Arab countries – Jordan and Egypt – but its occupation of Palestinian territory has long served as a major factor preventing similar accords with the rest of the Arab world.

Israel has, however, been seeking to build ties with Gulf nations in recent months.

“We strongly encourage the reaching of a solution” to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, said bin Farhan.

“When a peace treaty between the Palestinians and Israel is reached, the question of Israel’s integration in the region will be on the table [for negotiations] I believe.”

His comments came as US President Donald Trump said in Washington his “Deal of the Century” plan for the Palestinians and Israelis – already rejected by the Palestinians – has a “chance” and will be unveiled on Tuesday.

Source: News Agencies