In a surprise move, Jordan is now allowing Druze residents of the Israeli Golan Heights to enter the Hashemite Kingdom without a visa and without preconditions.
The move by Amman essentially negates the obligation of Golan Druze residents to obtain an Israeli identity card as a condition for obtaining a visa on the way to Arab countries.
“On this occasion, we appeal to the other Arab countries that still require us to accept Israeli citizenship as a condition for entering their territories and ask them to cancel this non-national and non-Arab condition and follow the path of Jordan,” said the leaders of the Druze community in the Golan, as quoted in Arab media reports.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was looking into the matter.
“There is no policy designed to force the Druze to receive an Israeli identity card, despite the application of the ‘Golan Law,’” the Foreign Ministry said. The ministry was referring to Israel’s application of Israeli law to the Golan in 1981.
Around 149,000 Druze live in Israel, primarily in the Galilee, on Mount Carmel and in the Golan. Of that number, roughly 23,000 live in the Golan Heights.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War, after which it offered citizenship to the Druze residents. Most rejected the offer, believing Syria would recapture the Golan. But over time, many of the younger generation opted for citizenship and the corresponding social benefits.
Before the Syrian civil war began in 2011, it was common for the Golan Druze to study in Syrian universities, marry Syrian Druze women and bring them to the Golan to raise families.
Like Druze in the rest of the country, the Golan Druze tend not to go into public life. The Druze in the Galilee and Mount Carmel areas sided with the Jews during Israel’s War of Independence.
The Druze trace their ancestry to the biblical Jethro. There are also Druze communities in Lebanon and Jordan.