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Muslim citizens of Israel reject Netanyahu’s plan to use pilgrimage for normalisation

February 20, 2020 at 10:35 am

Muslim prospective Hajj pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba at Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on 12 August, 2019 [Halil Sağırkaya/Anadolu Agency]

Arab Muslim citizens of Israel have rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to send Hajj pilgrims directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia, Al reported on Wednesday.

Muslim pilgrims, they insisted, will never accept being used as a tool for normalisation of relations with Arab states.

The comments were made in response to remarks made by the head of the Likud bloc in the Knesset, Miki Zohar, during the current General Election campaign.

Zohar said that Netanyahu is seeking to dispatch Hajj flights directly from Ben Gurion Airport to Saudi Arabia.

READ: Israel approves travel to Saudi under limited circumstances

Interior Minister Aria Deri spoke earlier about Saudi visas being granted to Israelis planning to visit the Kingdom for religious or commercial purposes.

The Palestinians, reported Al Jazeera, reiterated that these remarks are part of Netanyahu’s electoral campaign in order to attract the Arab vote, as well as to put pressure on Jordan, through which Palestinian pilgrims normally travel en route to Saudi Arabia.

The head of the Freedoms Committee affiliated to the Supreme Follow up Committee of the Arabs in Israel, Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib, pointed out that, “Netanyahu will not spare any effort in order to win the election.” He added that the Israeli leader is using religious issues as leverage for him in the campaign, adding that Sudan, the UAE, Bahrain and other countries have already voluntarily extended their hands to help him in this.