Although the Jewish State and the Gulf Kingdom have no diplomatic ties, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship have been able to perform the hajj, considered compulsory in Islam, using temporary Jordanian passports. Riyadh has eliminated this loophole despite reports about a rapprochement and military cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has changed its passport rules, and will now block Muslim residents of Israel from making the pilgrimage to Mecca, according to Haaretz. The believers can be barred from undertaking the Hajj, as well as the Umrah, a less important pilgrimage, as Riyadh no longer recognizes temporary Jordanian passports.
Muslim Israeli passport holders had been able to use the Jordanian documents to enter the Kingdom, which is home to Islam’s two most sacred cities, Mecca and Medina. While there are no diplomatic ties between Riyadh and Tel-Aviv, Muslim Palestinian Arabs with Israeli citizenship could perform the pilgrimage, going first to Jordan to obtain temporary passports and then entering Saudi Arabia.
The new regulations would affect not only over one million Muslim Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 17% of the country’s population, but also Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip who travel using temporary Jordan passports.
Although Israel and Saudi Arabia do not maintain formal diplomatic relations, it is believed that there has been a slight rapprochement between the two countries due to the shared perceived threat of Iran’s expanded influence in the region.
Contributed by Sputnik News