When people speak of travelling overseas, the first thing that comes to mind is, of course, your passport. It’s an essential document that will let you enter other countries and allows you to enjoy your holiday without worries.
While Malaysian passports are the key to many different countries, there is one that it doesn’t ‘unlock’. Apparently, Malaysian passports do not grant access to Israel. Ever wondered why? Wonder no more.
When you open your passport, there’s a statement written underneath the crest. “This passport is valid for all countries except for Israel“, it reads. While good to know, the passport doesn’t explain why. For that, you’ll need some historical and political knowledge. Israel and Palestine have been locked in conflict for many years now. As Malaysia supports the establishment of a Palestinian state and does not recognise Israel, Malaysians are prohibited from entering Israel. Additionally, Malaysia has not formed diplomatic relations with Israel due to political and religious reasons.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Malaysians have never been to Israel. Prior to 2009, Malaysian Christians were allowed into the country as pilgrims. However, they were only able to do so via a tour group and they were not allowed to stay longer than two weeks. In 2009, the Malaysian government banned trips to Israel as the Israel-Palestine conflict worsened. The ban was later lifted in 2011 and in 2012, the stays were extended to 21 days.
If you are thinking of visiting Israel, what do you need to know? Well, first of all, you cannot travel to Israel via private means. Of course, this means backpacking is off the table. If you do wish to make the trip, you will need to go through a Christian organisation and join their pilgrimage group or find specific business seminars. As mentioned, the stay cannot exceed 21 days and you must be over 18 years old to make the journey.
So, while your passport may not allow you to enter Israel, there are other means. If you do want to visit Israel, at least you know how to now!