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Saudi Arabia bars Israeli journalists accompanying Trump from entry

Saudi Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud (C-L) meets US President Donald Trump (C-R) at the White House in Washington, United States on March 14, 2017 [Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency]

Several Israeli journalists planning to accompany US President Donald Trump during his Middle East tour were denied entry visas by Saudi Arabia.

Orly Azoulay, a reporter for Yedioth Ahronot, and Gil Tamary of Israeli Channel 10 were scheduled to cover Trump's first overseas visit to the Arabian Gulf kingdom. They were approved by the White House to join the press charter plane accompanying the president.

However, on Wednesday, both were notified that the Saudi embassy had refused to grant them visas to the kingdom, which will be Trump's first stop. The reason given was their affiliation with Israeli media outlets, although both reporters are said to be US citizens.

Read: Conflict intensifies as Saudi crown prince depends on US for his role

Believing that the refusal to grant her a visa was intended to humiliate Trump, Azoulay took to Twitter to share her disappointment with a message to the president. She first told Trump that former President George W. Bush had taken her to Saudi Arabia:

Before saying: "@realDonaldTrump Saudis refused me visa to come on your trip because I am an Israeli reporter. Humiliating?"

She then added: "Take me on AF1!"

A third Israeli journalist, Dan Raviv, who is an American-born reporter in Washington for i24News, a TV channel based in Israel, was also not granted a Saudi visa. It's believed that Raviv had also visited Saudi Arabia in the past while with CBS News.

Tamary vented his disappointment by noting that the Saudi refusal disproves the claim that the Arabian Gulf kingdom is warming up to relations with Israel, saying:

Everyone is saying that the Saudis are changing, but when a reporter for an Israeli outlet wants to join the US president's press corps, he is not allowed on the plane.

The White House has yet to respond to the incident.

Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineSaudi ArabiaUS
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