Interior Minister Aryeh Deri signed an order on Sunday allowing Israelis to travel to Saudi Arabia for specific purposes such as business meetings or investment purposes.
The law also allows Muslim Israelis to travel to Mecca for religious pilgrimages, something that many Muslim Israelis have already been doing for many years using Jordanian or other foreign passports.
Israelis were forbidden by law until now from traveling to Saudi Arabia without the permission of the interior minister.
However, although the new law is a sign of a warmer relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia still restricts Israel citizens from visiting the country. Israeli citizens with foreign passports could enter Saudi Arabia as long as they have no Israeli stamps on that passport.
In September 2019, Saudi Arabia dramatically changed its traditionally strict tourist laws and opened its doors to tourists from 50 different countries.
In its announcement, the Interior Ministry said Israeli visitors would require an official invitation to enter the kingdom. It said the decision had been coordinated with Israeli security officials and other “relevant” bodies, including the Foreign Ministry.
There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia. The kingdom has made small gestures toward Israel in the past. In 2018, it began allowing Air India to fly through its airspace on its Israel route, cutting several hours off the trip.
Saudi support for the new U.S. peace plan would give significant momentum to the initiative. It remains unclear, however, whether the Saudis will do so, given the staunch opposition to the plan by the Palestinians.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem / AP)