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REVEALED: Saudi-Israel Plan to Bar Palestinians from Mecca Pilgrimage

As a charter member of the Arab League, Saudi Arabia had initially supported Palestinian sovereignty, and had previously led calls for withdrawal from the Israeli Occupied Territories since 1967. But times have changed.

Now Saudi Arabia and Israel have come to a power-sharing arrangement whereby they can manage regional hegemony,as well as sharing the same arch-enemy, Iran. Such is the new bilateral relationship between Saudi and Israel that the two nations are now sharing each other’s intelligence on Iran. This, along with persistent US meddling in the region and Washington’s firm policy of propping up both a Zionist-fascist regime in Tel Aviv and an Islamofascist regime in Riyadh – means that the financial geopolitical concerns of these two regional super-powers will always supersede any concerns about human rights of the native Palestinian population.

No doubt that Tel Aviv and Riyadh share a lot in common, not only in terms of their attachment to the US, but also their violent and repressive policies towards their neighbors, their belief in the genetic superiority of their respective ruling classes, and administering an authoritarian police state at home – all of which make them ideal regional partners.

This latest brazen and dangerous move by Saudi Arabia and Israel is just the latest effort to push the Palestinian people right to the edge of existence…

Mustafa Abu Sneineh
Middle East Eye

Saudi Arabia is barring more than one and a half million Palestinian citizens of Israel from travelling on temporary Jordanian passports to perform the Islamic pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah in the holy city of Mecca, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The measure is part of Saudi Arabia’s new policy to stop issuing visas for Hajj and Umrah to Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, East Jerusalem, and, most recently, to Palestinians living in Israel, who hold temporary travel documents issued by Jordan or Lebanon – a policy that became effective on 12 September.

This Saudi move affects 2.94 million Palestinians in total across these states, who have no access to any other form of travel document allowing them to go to Saudi Arabia, where millions of Muslims travel each year on pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Several travel agents spoken to by MEE in Israel, East Jerusalem and Jordan said that they were informed by Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs that the Saudi embassy in Amman told them to not apply for visas for anyone seeking to travel to Mecca on a temporary Jordanian passport.

Israeli-Saudi agreement

A Jordanian source, with an inside knowledge of his country’s diplomatic affairs, told MEE that the Saudi decision is part of a bilateral agreement with Israel to put an end to the “Palestinian identity and the right of return for refugees”.

“Saudi Arabia is pressuring Jordan to naturalise the Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Palestinians in East Jerusalem, and now Palestinians in Israel. The same could happen in Lebanon. Then, you will not have a Palestinian refugees problem,” the source said.

‘The decision is affecting every Arab and Muslim who has the right to worship’
– Saud Abu Mahfouz, Jordanian MP

“It is all part of a bilateral agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. But Jordan is refusing to naturalise Palestinians.”

Jordanian MPs told MEE that Jordan has been issuing temporary travel documents since 1978 for Palestinian citizens of Israel, who fell under Israeli military administration after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Saud Abu Mahfouz, a Jordanian MP, said that they have asked Jordan’s minister of interior and the minister of Awqaf to send a committee to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to negotiate a reversal of the policy, and called upon King Salman to intervene.

“The decision is affecting every Arab and Muslim who has the right to worship. We have been hearing complaints about this matter since last year, and we were surprised to find almost 200 tourist companies in Jordan not able to issue an electronic visa for Umrah from the Saudi embassy for Palestinians,” Abu Mahfouz said.

Another Jordanian MP, Yahya Al-Saud, said that they have asked for a meeting with the Saudi ambassador in Amman, Khaled bin Faisal, but the embassy has yet to set a date for the meeting.

“There is a pressure on Jordan. The Saudis are saying that only people with permanent passports could get a visa for Hajj and Umrah,” he said.

30 years of Hajj ban

Prior to 1978, Palestinian citizens of Israel endured three decades without going to Hajj and Umrah, a situation that ended when Jordan’s King Hussein began a policy in coordination with the Arab League to issue travel cards for them to perform Hajj, one of Islam’s five pillars.

After 2000, Jordan’s Civil Status and Passports Department in Amman started issuing them temporary passports instead of travel cards that are valid for a year and cost 50 Jordanian dinars ($70).

Saudi Arabia and the majority of Arab states do not recognise the Israeli passport. The Jordanian temporary passport was a tool to facilitate Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages to Mecca for Palestinian citizens of Israel who hold an Israeli passport…

Continue this story at MEE

READ MORE PALESTINE NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Palestine Files




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