Israel found itself reminding international journalists on Wednesday that not only civilians, but even lawmakers from ‘friendly’ Arab nations must respect the rules surrounding its sovereign borders.
Two parliamentarians from Morocco – Ali Salem Chekkaf and Mehdi Ben-said -- were turned away Monday at the Allenby Bridge crossing just north of the Dead Sea after it was learned they did not have entry visas required to continue their trip out of Jordan and into the Palestinian Authority.
"Every Moroccan citizen, whether or not they are part of a delegation, needs a visa to enter the West Bank via Israel," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP, referring to the international community’s appellation for Judea and Samaria.
The term “West Bank” refers to the west bank of the Jordan River and was a term used to refer to the area during its occupation by the Hashemite Kingdom from 1948 to 1967 following the invasion of Israel by Arab nations during the war of independence.
"The two MPs arrived only with their Moroccan passports without coordinating their visit in advance with the ministry of foreign affairs," Palmor continued.
"If we had been warned about their visit, we could have facilitated their entry," he pointed out. Palmor added that the other members of the delegation with whom they were traveling were allowed to cross the border because they were carrying European passports which do not require visas.
The incident sparked criticism in Rabat, with Morocco's parliamentary speaker on Tuesday accusing Israel of a "discriminatory and arrogant act."
The two MPs were traveling with an 18-member delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) which had met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and government officials in Amman on Sunday.
Morocco is one of several Arab countries with which Israel has ties, albeit no formal diplomatic relations. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab states to enjoy full and formal diplomatic ties with the Jewish State.