Can I visit Israel after visiting Arab countries?

Continuing on from our post of which Arab countries you can visit with an Israeli stamp in your passport, it’s time for a trek in the opposite direction. You’ve been to an Arab country and now want to visit the Holy Land. Is it even possible?

The answer is yes, but a cautious yes.

If you’re a genuine tourist with no real political reasons behind your visit, you should be OK at any of the immigration points upon entering Israel. Be prepared for a barrage of questioning, but if you answer all those probing questions honestly, you should be fine. And if you have a Muslim-like name, or have various stamps from frequent trips to Syria or Lebanon, you can expect that questioning to be just a wee bit more intense…

If you’re looking to visit the West Bank, things might get tricky. Bethlehem is, of course, an obvious tourist attraction that many visitors to Israel stop at, but if you start talking about other locations in the West Bank, such as politically sensitive towns like Nablus or Jenin, you could be given a visa that will provide you with access to the Palestinian Authority area only, and not Israel proper. That means no Tel Aviv, no Jerusalem, no Dead Sea…

If you’re looking for the easiest border crossing into Israel, you probably want to head to the crossing in the south (Aqaba-Eilat). The border at the Allenby crossing (between Jordan and Israel) is notoriously stringent. But again, if you’re visiting Israel for genuine tourist reasons, you’ll be OK at any crossing.

So yes, Israel will let any genuine tourist in, regardless of the stamps in their passport. Contrast that with the list of Arab countries that won’t let you in if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport. Hmmmm.

Some hot tips on how to visit Israel when coming from an Arab country

Our hot tip for avoiding any future issues when visiting Israel from an Arab country: get a second passport. Americans should find this is easy to do: you will have to answer a questionnaire as to why you need it, but then you’ll get a passport valid for two years. So use this passport for visiting Israel and your regular passport for anywhere else in the world.

Another hot tip: use Cyprus as your route to Israel from Arab countries. Of course, immigration will know from which country (Cyprus) the plane has come from, but the plane before? Though, of course, if your passport is full of Arab countries stamps, you will face some tricky questioning.

One last tip: always answer honestly the questions thrown at you by Israeli immigration. If you’re purpose is purely vacation, you’ll be fine. If your intentions are less innocent, well…

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