Israeli citizens still not allowed to visit Saudi Arabia, says Saudi FM
LONDON - Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has stated that Israeli citizens are not allowed to come to the kingdom, a day after Israeli media reported that the country was granting official permission to some of its citizens to travel to the Sunni Muslim country.
Saudi Arabian media outlets, which usually reflect the government’s viewpoint, as well as regional independent media organs, highlighted Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan's statements to US broadcaster CNN in which he said that Israelis were not welcome in the kingdom.
"Our policy is fixed. We have no relations with the state of Israel, and it is not possible for Israeli passport holders to visit the kingdom presently," a report on CNN Arabic quoted him as telling the channel on 27 January.
"When a peace agreement is reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis, I believe the issue of Israel's involvement in the region can then be brought to the table," he was further quoted as saying.
The Saudi foreign minister’s comments came as US President Donald Trump said in Washington that his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan — already rejected by the Palestinians — has a “chance” and will be unveiled today.
Israel’s interior ministry said on January 26 that Israeli citizens, both Muslims and Jews, have the right to travel to Saudi Arabia for religious and business visits.
The new Israeli policy allows Israelis with official invitations to travel to Saudi Arabia for up to 90 days for business meetings and to seek investment opportunities, according to reports on the websites of the public broadcaster Kan and Haaretz newspaper.
Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and does not permit entry to Israeli citizens, except for Israeli Arabs on annual pilgrimages to Muslim holy sites in the kingdom.
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.