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Malaysian PM: We won't allow Israeli athletes to enter

Jan. 16, 2019 11:01 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 27, 2019 3:34 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reiterated, on Tuesday, that the nation will continue to deny Israeli athletes entry visas for any sport championships as a form of support for Palestine and the Palestinian people.

Last week, Malaysian authorities denied to issue entry visas for two Israeli para-swimmers for the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in July.

Mahathir Mohamad said in a press conference, “We will not allow them [to enter]. If they come, then it is an offense.”

He explained to Malaysian media that it would be against national laws to issue visas for Israelis, as the country does not recognize the state of Israel.

He added, “If they want to withdraw the championships’ hosting rights from Malaysia, then they can try to do so.”

Malaysia has long enforced a policy of disallowing Israeli passport-holders from entering the country due to a lack of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

Malaysian passports include a line noting that they are "valid for all countries except Israel."

It is noteworthy that Malaysia has previously refused the entry of Israeli sport teams to participate and compete in tennis tournaments and international sailing competitions.

The Malaysian city of Kuching is set to host hundreds of swimmers from 70 countries from July 29th to August 4th, 2019, for the event.

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