PNC accepts Israel passport ban bill, Deputy Speaker urges economic, national security considerations

Parliament Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim; he had urged the parliament's relevant committee to assess possible economic and national security impact potentially arising from a ban on Israeli passport holders -- Photo/ Majilis

The ruling People's National Congress (PNC) parliamentary group members during Monday's sitting accepted opposing Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) proposed amendment seeking a travel ban on Israeli passport holders.

The bill, proposed by South-Galolhu MP Meekail Naseem from MDP, was put on agenda for the fourth sitting of the current 20th parliamentary assembly.

After MDP proposed the bill, the incumbent cabinet recently announced the decision to ban Israeli arrivals for which it appointed a special committee to expedite the efforts.

During the debate on the bill at Monday's sitting, several PNC members endorsed the amendment, including PNC parliamentary group leader and Inguraidhoo MP Ibrahim Falah.

"In my opinion the bill, proposed by South-Galolhu MP, seeking amendment on the Immigration Act is crucial, and has my endorsement," Falah commented.

Despite endorsing the bill, Falah made verbal jabs at the oppositiong during Monday's sitting. The Inguraidhoo MP highlighted Israel's most recent offenses intensified on October 07th, last year during which MDP was in power, and questioned about the party's inaction.

Meanwhile, the current government's approach for a legislative amendment though a travel ban was possible with a presidential decree, has been criticized by MDP.

In response, Falah said the same approach could have been employed during the former government, and questioned why it was not exercised.

"Maldives has been at the forefront in providing aid to Palestine. This tiny Maldives has been a staunch advocate for Palestine's rights since then. The former President could have achieved a ban with a presidential decree, or with a bill," Falah added.

Falah proposed to submit the passport ban issue to the Committee on National Security Services (241 Committee) during Monday's sitting, which was concurred by Dhiggaru MP and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim and Maamigili MP Qasim Ibrahim as well.

Falah said he does not wish to politicize the issue, which he added will not bear a productive outcome, and added that he wished for a convenient resolve on the issue as per the public's demands.

According to the Deputy Speaker, potential repercussions to the economy and national security of the Maldives should be considered before the passport ban is approved.

During the debate, Nazim said multiple considerations on the bill should be given before it is submitted for a committee reviewal.

He stressed the parliament's decision must not hamper the economic conditions and national security of the Maldives.

"It is our request for expedited efforts at the committee after careful considerations with regards the economy, national security and safety concerns," Nazim commented.

He further said that the global powers should not be allowed to treat the Maldives to their whims, and said responsible decision-making is contrary to blindly acting upon impulses.

Nazim said that seeking enemies is not synonymous with nationalism.

While Nazim had pointed out to areas of concerns in the bill, and potential outcomes from passing it, Maamigili MP Qasim Ibrahim had expressed frustration alleging the bill was an attempt by MDP to cull the incumbent government.

The allegations however, were denied by the South-Galolhu MP at Monday's sitting.

The amendment seeks to add a clause to Article 8 of the Immigration, by adding Israeli nationals or passport holders among the nationalities barred entry into the Maldives.

Since October 07th last year, Israel has intensified its offenses against the Palestinian people, with continued attacks on Gazan settlements that have since claimed more than 36,800 lives, many of whom were women and children.