Nearly one million Arabs with Israeli nationality will not be able to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca or make the 'hajj', one of the five pillars of Islam, after a change in passport policy in Saudi Arabia, local media reported.
Salim Shalata, the chairman of the Committee in Israel of Hajj and Umrah (the latter a minor pilgrimage that can be done at any time and is not mandatory), said that committee members were recently banned from entering Saudi Arabia, where they were traveling to coordinate the pilgrimage of hundreds of Arab Israeli Muslims.
Although in recent times there is a rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, these two countries do not have diplomatic relations and the former can not travel to that Arab country.
However, in 1978, King Hussein of Jordan ruled that Israeli Arabs (Palestinians who remained within Israel's borders after its creation in 1948) could enter the country, receive a temporary Jordanian passport there to replace the Israeli and travel from there to Saudi Arabia to complete a trip that the faithful should do at least once in their life.
Riyadh "informed Jordan that they have decided not to accept the temporary Jordanian passports of the Israeli Arabs," Shalata said and said that country has "suddenly" taken this decision on the travel system "that had been underway for 40 years "
"We have no explanation for this sudden decision, we have thousands of 'hajj' Palestinians who had already registered to go to Saudi Arabia this year," lamented Shalata, who said they had addressed "all the authorities in Jordan and Arabia." Saudi "to solve it.
The Saudi decision also affects Palestinian pilgrims from Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank who have a Jordanian temporary passport, although those with identifications from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) may travel.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz points out that experts point out that perhaps the measure is related to the possibility of Saudi Arabia allowing in the future to travel to the Muslims of Israel with their Israeli passport, as a step of rapprochement between the countries, although there is no official information to the respect.