Jordan issues temporary passports after Saudi rejects Haj visas in Israeli passports

Published September 15th, 2014 - 07:31 GMT
Pilgrims performing the Haj (AFP/ File Archive).
Pilgrims performing the Haj (AFP/ File Archive).

The Jordanian government has confirmed that it issues temporary passports for Arab-Israeli passport holders so that they can enter the Kingdom to perform the Haj.

This follows the Saudi government this week rejecting reports that it would endorse Haj visas on Israeli passports if they were issued by its consulates abroad.

Every year, nearly 5,000 Arab citizens of Israel, arrive in the Kingdom to perform the pilgrimage. These citizens are holders of Israeli passports, which are not recognized by Saudi Arabia or the majority of Arab states, except for Jordan and Egypt that signed peace treaties with Israel in 1979 and 1994 respectively.

“We understand the problems Arab-Israelis are going through, therefore we try to facilitate their travel to the Kingdom as much as we can. We issue them a one-month passport upon their arrival in the Kingdom, which they use when applying for a visa at the Saudi embassy for the Haj,” Director General of the Jordanian Passport and Civil Status Department Marqan Qutaishat told Arab News on Friday.

Qutaishat said these pilgrims would then have to hand in these temporary passports to the Jordanian government after completing the Haj.

In a statement to the media this week, Saudi Ambassador to Amman Sami Al-Saleh stressed that the embassy does not accept Israeli passports. He reiterated that Arab-Israelis traveling from the occupied lands in Palestine are issued Haj visas in temporary passports issued by the Jordanian government.

This statement follows reports earlier this week that the Saudi Passport Department would allow Arabs holding Israeli passports to enter the Kingdom provided their visas were issued by a consulate abroad and approved by the Haj Ministry. Ahmed Luhaidan, spokesman for the passports department, told Arab News on the phone that the department does not issue visas. The Saudi Foreign Ministry is mandated to do this, he said.

Earlier, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) confirmed there are no direct flights between the airports of the Kingdom and that of Occupied Palestine for the Haj season. Khaled Al-Khaibari, spokesman for GACA, denied reports in Israeli media saying that Saudi Arabia would allow entry to pilgrims traveling to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah from Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. He said Gaza pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage via Egyptian airports, while pilgrims of the West Bank do so by air or road through Jordan.

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