Monday January 27, 2020
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Faisal attends a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias (not pictured) at the Foreign Ministry in Athens, Greece January 24, 2020REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Israelis were not welcome to visit the kingdom after Israel decreed that Israeli citizens could visit Saudi Arabia under certain circumstances, CNN reported on Monday.
“Our policy is fixed. We do not have relations with the state of Israel and Israeli passport holders cannot visit the kingdom at the current time,” the U.S. broadcaster quoted Prince Faisal bin Farhan as saying.
Israel’s Interior Ministry announced on Sunday that it will now permit Israelis to visit Saudi Arabia, for the first time in Israel’s history. The new rules will allow travel to Saudi Arabia for the Islamic pilgrimages known as the Hajj and the Umrah, or for business trips of up to 90 days. However, business trips will be conditional on the traveler having an invitation from a Saudi official.
Israelis, mostly Muslims going on pilgrimage, have for years been visiting the kingdom, which hosts the two holiest sites in Islam, but usually with special permission or using foreign passports.
“When a peace agreement is reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis, I believe the issue of Israel’s involvement in the region will be on the table,” Prince Faisal said
The new rule, which Interior Minister Arye Dery signed on Wednesday, was made in coordination with the defense establishment, the ministry said. Sources familiar with the decision said Dery’s signature was the culmination of a process that “had been brewing for many weeks.”