Israelis still unable to visit Saudi Arabia, minister clarifies

Israel said on Sunday that it was removing restrictions on visits for religious or business reasons to the kingdom

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Faisal speaks during a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias (not pictured) at the Foreign Ministry in Athens, Greece January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

Israeli citizens are not allowed to come to Saudi Arabia, the kingdom's foreign minister clarified on Monday after Tel Aviv said it gave its citizens the green light to visit.

Israel's interior ministry on Sunday said Israeli citizens, both Muslims and Jews, have the right to travel to Saudi Arabia for religious and business visits.

But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told CNN that Israelis are not welcome at the moment in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites.

"Our policy is constant. We don't have relations with Israel and holders of Israeli passports cannot visit the kingdom for now," he said, according to CNN's Arabic website.

Like most Arab countries, Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Israel has peace deals with only two Arab countries – Jordan and Egypt – but its occupation of Palestinian territory has long served as a major factor preventing similar accords with the rest of the Arab world.

"We strongly encourage the reaching of a solution" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, said Prince Faisal.

"When a peace treaty between the Palestinians and Israel is reached the question of Israel's integration in the region will be on the table [for negotiations] I believe," he added.

His comments came as US President Donald Trump in Washington said that his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan – already rejected by the Palestinians – has a "chance" and will be unveiled on Tuesday.

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