Maldives decides to ban Israeli passports

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu chairs a cabinet meeting on December 17, 2023. (Photo/President's Office)

The Maldivian government has made the decision to change the country’s laws to ban Israeli passports, amid mounting public outrage over the devastating attacks by Israeli forces on Gaza.

The decision was announced by Home Minister Ali Ihusan, in an emergency press briefing at the President’s Office on late Sunday afternoon.

According to Ihusan, the decision was made during a cabinet meeting held earlier in the day.

“The cabinet decided today to make the legal amendments necessary to ban entry into the Maldives on Israeli passports as soon as possible,” he said.

The cabinet has set up a special committee to expedite the process, which is composed of:

  • Home Minister Ali Ihusan
  • Islamic Minister Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed
  • Attorney General Ahmed Usham
  • Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed
  • Tourism Minister Ibrahim Faisal
  • Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer

The cabinet also made four other key decisions with regard to Palestine.

  • To appoint a special presidential envoy to inquire about the areas in which Palestine requires support from Maldives
  • To hold fundraisers to assist Palestinians through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
  • To hold a nationwide rally under the slogan “Faladheenaa Eku Dhiveheen”, which translates to “Maldivians in solidarity with Palestine.”
  • To hold discussions with other Muslim nations to expedite a solution to the Palestinian conflict

While the cabinet decided to ban Israeli passports, the actual implementation of the decision will require legal reforms.

At Sunday’s press briefing, Ihusan said the Maldivian administration is working to ban Israeli passports “as soon as possible.”

Maldives sees over one million tourist arrivals each year. This includes around 15,000 tourists from Israel.

The decision by the Maldivian government to ban Israeli passports comes after Meekail Ahmed Naseem, a lawmaker from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), submitted an amendment to Immigration Act last week, to bar the entry of Israeli citizens.

The new parliamentary assembly, which took office last week, is set to hold its second sitting on Monday. The main ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) holds a supermajority at the Parliament, with 75 out of 93 seats.

Maldivians has been holding protests in the streets of the capital, Male’ City, for months, demanding that the government ban Israeli citizens from entering the country, amid mounting outrage over the atrocities in Gaza, and other occupied Palestinian territories.

Israel’s current war on Gaza, which began on October 7, 2023, has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children. It has also reduced much of the Palestinian territory to rubble, displaced the vast majority of residents, and resulted in widespread malnutrition.