US lawmakers readies bill to stop aid to Maldives if Israel passport is banned

Protest by Maldivians calling to ban entry to the Maldives for Israeli passport holders. (Sun Photo/Naish Nahid)

US lawmakers are preparing to submit a bill to the Congress which is seeking to stop aid to the Maldives if it does not backtrack on the decision to impose a ban on Israeli passport holders.

As reported by American news outlet Axios, the legislation is being developed by Lower House Congressman Josh Gottheimer representing New Jersey’s 5th congressional district. He is one of Israel’s most steadfast defenders and a member of the ruling Democratic Party.

As per Axios, the bill titled ‘Protecting Allied Travel Here’ (PATH) is being developed with representatives from both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

Gottheimer, in a statement regarding the bill, said taxpayer dollars “shouldn't be sent to a foreign nation that has banned all Israeli citizens from traveling to their country”, adding Israel to be one of America's greatest democratic allies.

“Maldives' unprecedented travel ban is nothing but a blatant act of Jew hatred. They shouldn't get a cent of American dollars until they reverse course,” he added.

According to the US Agency for International Development and State Department, US has provided approximately USD 36 million to the Maldives in financial assistance between 2019 and 2023. 

The Maldivian government decided to amend the country’s laws to ban Israeli passports during a cabinet meeting held on Sunday.

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 the Immigration Act last week, to bar the entry of Israeli citizens.

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.