Saudi Foreign Minister: Israelis cannot visit the kingdom

Saudi Foreign Minister makes clear Israeli citizens are not allowed to come to the kingdom despite Israeli decision to permit such trips.

Elad Benari ,

Prince Faisal bin Farhan
Prince Faisal bin Farhan
Reuters

Despite Israel permitting its citizens to leave for Saudi Arabia for the first time, the Saudi Foreign Minister made clear on Monday that Israeli citizens are not allowed to come to the kingdom for the time being.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri 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 CNN on Monday that Israelis are not welcome at the moment in Saudi Arabia.

"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-language website.

"We strongly encourage the reaching of a solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict, said Bin Farhan in the interview.

"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," he added.

Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, but Israel has been seeking to build ties with Gulf nations in recent months.

Over the past few years there have been rumors of rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, but Saudi officials have denied those reports.

Saudi Arabia insists that Israel accept the 2002 Saudi Peace Initiative, which stipulates that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

Israel to date has rejected the 2002 Saudi proposal due to the fact that it calls for Israel to accept the so-called "right of return" for millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, effectively bringing an end to the Jewish state.

In 2016, Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement they were ready “to negotiate with the Arab countries on updating the Arab Peace Initiative, to reflect the dramatic changes since 2002, and to maintain the agreed goal of two states for two peoples.”

The kingdom rejected Netanyahu’s demand at the time, arguing that the Arab Peace Initiative is the best solution for the conflict.




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