Maldives rethinks ban on Israelis, hoping to limit impact to Jews only

Tiny South Asian nation mulls changes to planned ban on Israeli passport holders, seeking to exclude Arab-Israelis from the prohibition on entry.

By World Israel News Staff

Weeks after announcing plans to ban Israeli nationals from entering the country, the tiny South Asian island nation-state of Maldives is rethinking the sweeping restriction.

On June 2nd, Maldives announced that in response to the ongoing war between Israel and the Hamas terror organization, the country would impose an entry ban on those seeking to enter on an Israeli passport.

Maldives, home to roughly half a million people, is officially entirely Islamic, with affiliation with Sunni Islam a condition for citizenship.

The Maldives government banned Israeli visitors in the 1990s and 2000s, before lifting the ban in 2010, before President Mohamed Muizu moved to reimpose the prohibition this month.

However, a committee tapped by President Muizu to plan out the new restriction and to aid Arab-Israelis impacted by the ban has since warned that the move could impact millions of Arabs holding Israeli citizenship.

Over two million of Israel’s population of 10 million are Arabs.

“The biggest concern is that there are many Palestinians with Israeli passports, millions of them,” Maldives Attorney General Ahmed Usham said at a press conference last Thursday.

“What happens when we impose a blanket ban? These are matters that need careful consideration.”

Thus far, the country’s parliament has neither taken up a bill to impose a ban on Israelis, nor had such a measure even proposed.

The current proposal under consideration would, if submitted to the parliament and passed, would not only ban travelers seeking to enter the Maldives with an Israeli passport, but an Israeli passport holders, even if they hold another citizenship and use a different passport to enter.

“We believe the best approach is to take the existing bill and amend it during committee discussions,” Usham said. “Therefore, the government will not present an additional bill.”

Israelis are still able to enter the Maldives, though Israel’s Foreign Ministry has advised Israeli nationals rethink travel there.

“In light of the Maldivian government’s decision to ban the entry of citizens holding Israeli passports, the Foreign Ministry recommends that Israeli citizens avoid all travel to the Maldives,” the minsitry said in a statement.

“This recommendation also applies to Israeli citizens holding a foreign passport, in addition to an Israeli passport. For Israeli citizens currently in the country, it is recommended to consider leaving, as in the event of distress for any reason, we will find it difficult to assist.”