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Millions of Palestinians no longer eligible for Saudi visas

A Saudi decision to deny visas to people holding temporary passports but without national identification numbers means that millions of Palestinian Muslims in Israel, Jordan and Lebanon will not be able to perform religious rites at Islamic holy sites in the kingdom.
Muslim pilgrims walk out after the Friday prayer at the Grand mosque ahead of annual Haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia  August 17, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra - RC1615A76DE0

An unannounced policy by the Saudi government has made millions of Palestinians unable to travel to Saudi Arabia for the hajj, umrah (the non-mandatory, lesser pilgrimage) or work. Over the past two months, Saudi consular officials have informed Jordanian travel agencies servicing hajj and umrah tourism that the kingdom will no longer accept visa applications for individuals with temporary travel documents.

The decision affects hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Jerusalem, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan who have temporary passports but no national identification numbers. Al-Monitor viewed text messages from Saudi consular officials based in Amman, Jordan, to travel agents instructing them not to submit applications from persons with temporary documents. Saudi officials in Amman have refused comment on the issue to the media.

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