Jerusalem (Web Desk): Israel on Sunday officially granted permission to its citizens for traveling to Saudi Arabia for religious and business visits.
The interior ministry’s announcement will have limited practical impact, as Israelis have been travelling to Saudi Arabia via third countries, especially Jordan. But Israel had never granted official approval for such travel by both Jewish and Muslim Israelis. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri “signed for the first time an order enabling an exit permit for Israelis to Saudi Arabia”, his office said.
The interior ministry said its move, coordinated with the security and diplomatic services, approves travel to Saudi Arabia “for religious purposes during Haj and (for) Umrah”.
It said Israel would also allow its citizens to travel to Saudi Arabia “to participate in business meetings or seek investments” for trips not exceeding 90 days.
Business travellers must have “arranged their entry to Saudi Arabia and received an invitation from a governmental source”, the interior ministry said. There was no indication of a corresponding policy change from the Saudi side, but there have in recent months been gestures pointing to warming ties between Israel and Gulf states.
Israel has a peace deal with two Arab countries — Jordan and Egypt — but its occupation of Palestinian territories has long served as a major factor preventing similar accords with the rest of the Arab world.