Asian state bans Israelis

The Maldives have blacklisted Israeli nationals in solidarity with Palestine

The Maldives announced on Sunday that Israeli passport holders will be banned from visiting the small Muslim-majority island nation due to the war in Gaza. The country is one of the destinations of holidaymakers from the Jewish states.

“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.”

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 for Palestine.

The Indian Ocean archipelago, known for its white sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, and luxury resorts, is a popular destination among Israelis. Nearly 11,000 tourists from Israel visited the islands last year, which amounts to 0.6% of total arrivals. This year, however, the number dropped by more than 80%.

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

“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.

The diplomatic relations between Israel and the Maldives have been suspended since 1974.  Israeli tourists were allowed to visit the archipelago after the Maldives lifted the previous travel ban in the 1990s. 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 fighting 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 cities.

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