US Lawmakers Propose Bill to Halt Aid to Maldives Over Israeli Passport Ban

American lawmaker Josh Gottheimer has taken a stand to introduce a bill aimed at halting US aid to Maldives if Israeli citizens face a ban from entering the country.

Gottheimer, known for his staunch support of Israel in Congress, spearheads the proposed legislation dubbed the “Protecting Allied Travel Here Act,” as the US newspaper Axios reported.

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The essence of the bill is twofold:

  1. Conditional Aid: The United States would continue providing aid to Maldives on the condition that Israeli citizens are permitted entry.
  2. Aid Cutoff: If Maldives enforces a ban on Israeli citizens, the US government would be mandated to cease all assistance to the island nation.

Gottheimer stressed to Axios the gravity of Maldives’ decision to bar Israeli citizens, citing it as an act of provocation and prejudice against Jews. He emphasised that actions against one of the United States’s closest allies are unacceptable.

“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,” Gottheimer remarked.

Financial Figures and Assistance:

According to data from the US State Department, the United States has extended approximately USD36 million in financial aid to the Maldives over the past four years.

Recent developments indicate an inclination to enhance US aid to the Maldives, with plans underway to donate a specialised naval vessel to bolster maritime security.

The Maldives Economic Minister has mentioned upcoming discussions between the Maldives and the United States to introduce PayPal.

Official data indicates a notable decline in the number of Israelis visiting the Maldives, with a drop of 88% in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year.

Significance of Cabinet Decision:

In a recent decision, the Maldivian Cabinet prohibited Israeli citizens from entering the country. Concurrently, efforts are being expedited to present the requisite amendments to parliament for swift enactment into law.

However, the implementation timeline remains unspecified, leaving room for speculation and anticipation regarding the potential ramifications of this legislative move.

The Maldives had previously lifted a ban on Israeli tourists in the early 1990s and attempted to normalize relations in 2010. However, efforts were derailed following the ousting of then-president Mohamed Nasheed in February 2012.

International Response

In response to the Maldives’ decision, Israel’s foreign ministry advised its citizens against travelling to the Maldives, including those with dual citizenship. It cautioned Israeli citizens already in the country to consider leaving due to potential difficulties in receiving assistance in case of emergencies.

The decision by the Maldives comes amid similar actions in Europe, where countries like Turkey have imposed bans on imports and exports with Israel. Additionally, various European universities and institutions have suspended cooperation agreements with Israeli entities.

As the proposed bill garners attention on Capitol Hill, the fate of US aid to Maldives hangs in the balance, contingent upon the outcome of deliberations surrounding Maldives’ stance on Israeli passport bans.

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