13:10 GMT02 December 2020
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    Although there are no diplomatic ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the hidden relations of the two countries have increased over the past years in the face of their mutual enemy Iran. In January, Tel-Aviv okayed trips to the kingdom for business and religious pilgrimages, after barring direct journeys for years.

    An official from the Likud party revealed that the head of the Israeli government, Benjamin Netanyahu, is looking into facilitating Hajj – a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia each Muslim is supposed to make at least once, during his life, The New Arab reports, citing Palestinian sources.

    According to the outlet, Knesset lawmaker from the Likud party Miki Zuhar spoke about progress on the matter, amid the Israeli prime minister’s reportedly improved ties with the kingdom, which does not maintain diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, like several other Arab nations.

    The MP claimed that he had asked Netanyahu to make it possible, using his connections, for Muslim pilgrims from Israel to travel to Saudi Arabia for the much lower price of $1,460 instead of $8,700, the current cost of such a trip when travelling via Jordan.

    Muslims from Israel have had to use temporary papers issued by Jordan to travel to Mecca for years, as both countries had not allowed direct trips. But recently, against the backdrop of reportedly warming ties, the Israeli government decided that citizens of the Jewish state would be permitted to go to Saudi Arabia for certain purposes after Tel Aviv had banned such journeys, without express permission from the interior minister, for years.

    In January, the country’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri signed the corresponding order, allowing trips to the monarchy for business meetings, investment searches as well as for the so-called Umrah religious pilgrimage, Hajj.

    However, the move was not reciprocated by Riyadh as Prince Faisal, the current foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, told CNN that Israelis were not allowed to visit his country despite the move.


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    diplomacy, pilgrimage tours, Muslim, Hajj, Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia, Israel
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