Muslim pilgrims pray near the Islam's holiest shrine, the Kaaba, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca. (Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia: Israelis Still Unwelcome

A day after Israel’s Interior Ministry made waves by announcing that the country’s citizens would be permitted to travel to Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s foreign minister clarified that Israelis would not be granted entry visas at this juncture. “Our policy is constant. We don’t have relations with Israel, and holders of Israeli passports cannot visit… for now,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan was quoted as saying by CNN’s Arabic-language website. Israeli officials on Sunday said that Muslims and Jews would be allowed, on a case by case basis, to go to the Sunni Muslim state for religious and business reasons. Despite Riyadh’s declared position, the Israeli move is being construed as further evidence of warming ties between the two nations, which share the common interest of preventing Shi’ite Iran’s potential nuclearization and curbing its regional adventurism. Nevertheless, Farhan effectively conditioned the establishment of full and open bilateral relations with Israel on a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians. Only then, he said, would “the question of Israel’s integration in the region… be on the table.”

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