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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Maldives bans entry of Israeli citizens in the country

The Maldives has imposed a ban in solidarity with Palestine

The Maldives announced on Sunday that Israeli passport holders would be banned from visiting the small Muslim-majority island nation due to the war in Gaza. The country in the Indian Ocean is a popular destination for holidaymakers from the Jewish state.

“President Dr Mohamed Muizzu, following a recommendation from the Cabinet, has resolved to impose a ban on Israeli passports,” the president’s office said in a statement on its website. “The Cabinet decision includes amending necessary laws to prevent Israeli passport holders from entering the Maldives and establishing a Cabinet subcommittee to oversee these efforts.”

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Muizzu’s office added that the president has decided to “appoint a special envoy to assess Palestinian needs,” launch a fundraising campaign, and hold a nationwide rally in support of Palestine.

The Indian Ocean archipelago, known for its white sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, and luxury resorts, attracted almost 11,000 tourists from Israel last year, making up 0.6% of total arrivals. This year, however, the number has dropped by more than 80%.

Following the announcement, Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued an advisory, recommending that Israeli citizens avoid traveling to the Maldives and urging those staying there to depart.

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“For Israeli citizens already in the country, it is recommended to consider leaving, because if they find themselves in distress for any reason, it will be difficult for us to assist,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Diplomatic relations between Israel and the Maldives have been suspended since 1974. Israeli tourists were allowed to visit the archipelago after the Maldives lifted a previous travel ban in the 1990s, and the two countries moved to restore the diplomatic ties in 2010, but the normalization effort was abandoned two years later, following the toppling of President Mohamed Nasheed.

Several Muslim-majority countries – including Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan – have banned Israeli travelers since the war between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas broke out on October 7. More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s operation in Gaza, which was triggered by a surprise Hamas raid into southern Israeli settlements.