Parliament accepts Israel passport ban bill, sends it to 241 committee

South Galolhu MP Meekail Ahmed Naseem. (Photo/People's Majlis)

A bill submitted by the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), designed to amend the Immigration Act to ban entry into the Maldives on Israeli passports, was accepted by the Parliament for consideration on Monday, and forwarded to the Security Services Committee (241 Committee) for review.

The bill was submitted by South Galolhu MP Ahmed Meekail Naseem.

During the debate on the bill on Monday morning, the leader of the main ruling People’s National Congress (PNC)'s parliamentary group, Inguraidhoo MP Ibrahim Falah, called for the work on the bill to be expedited “in accordance with the wishes of the government and the general population”, and recommended forwarding it to the 241 Committee.

The motion was seconded by Parliament’s Deputy Speaker, Dhiggaru MP Ahmed Nazim, and Maamigiili MP Qasim Ibrahim.

The bill was called to vote on Monday afternoon.

It was sent to the committee with a unanimous vote of 88.

Falah’s recommendation to send the bill to the 241 Committee had drawn concern from the MDP, which said the legislature could be sent to the Foreign Relations Committee.

The Parliament’s minority leader, South Hithadhoo MP Ibrahim Nazil said the bill could be expedited by sending it to the Foreign Relations Committee.

He also pointed out that the Speaker has the authority to decide which committee the bill will be sent to.

Also during Monday’s debate, Deputy Speaker Nazim called for a more cautious approach.

He said the Parliament must consider potential economic and national security repercussions when changing the country’s laws.

Qasim, the leader of Jumhoory Party (JP), also urged caution.

Qasim said the Maldives shouldn’t ban Israeli passports without giving it “thorough consideration”, and suggested the MDP hadn’t given it proper thought before submitting the bill.

Meekail’s bill is designed to add a clause to Article 8 of Immigration Act, which lists individuals who are barred from entering the Maldives.

If it passes the final vote, the legislature will bar the entry of all Israeli passport holders, including those who have dual citizenship.

Maldivians have 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.

Last week, President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s cabinet decided to change the country’s laws to ban Israeli passports “as soon as possible.”

Israel’s current war on Gaza, which began on October 7, 2023, has killed more than 37,000 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.