Saudi Arabia to bar 3 million Palestinians from completing the Hajj

According to a new rule of Saudi Arabia, visas for Hajj and Umrah to Palestinians in Lebanon, Jordan, East Jerusalem, and Israel are no longer recognized.

This measure could prevent almost three million Palestinians from participating in one of the five tenets of Islam.

Saudi Arabia, without media announcement, decided to bar 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel the right to enter the country by a temporary passport issued by Lebanon or Jordan.

There are 4,500 Palestinian pilgrims from Israel who go to Hajj each year, and between 20,000 to 25,000 perform Umrah, according to a Middle East Eye (MEE) report.

The Hajj is possible to complete every year on Eid al-Adha’s Islamic holiday. The Umrah can be achieved at any time.

Travel agents from Israel, East Jerusalem and Jordan told MEE, Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs are now unable to issue visas for someone seeking to travel to Mecca on a temporary Jordanian passport, a policy effective since September 12th.

Russia Today reported that Palestinians in East Jerusalem who wish to get a Saudi visa, could apply through the Palestinian Authority for temporary passport.

A knowledgeable Jordanian source, told MEE that this new policy needed to be understood as part of a bilateral agreement with Israel. The main goal would be to put an end to the “Palestinian identity and the right of return for refugees.

He added that “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.”

A Haaretz article suspected that the new rule perhaps constitutes another sign of closer relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

As the Israeli Minister of Transport, Israel Katz stated in a tweet on September 11, the Palestinian refugee “problem” in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq “would be good to disappear from the world.

According to Arab News, this new policy did not prevent the undersecretary of the Hajj Ministry for Hajj Affairs, Dr. Hussein Al-Sharif, to give thanks to the support and attention of Saudi Arabia for the Hajj system to act without interruption to improve pilgrims’ experience and enrich this trip.

Source: Palestine Monitor