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Anger as Israeli enters on US passport.

The Majlis is working on legislation to ban anyone born in Israel from visiting Iran after an Israeli journalist got into Iran as a tourist by using her American passport.

There was no serious suggestion that the woman, Orly Azoulay, had done anything wrong. She simply wrote news stories for her Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, describing reactions in Iran to the draft nuclear agreement with the Big Six.

But that was enough to frighten many in the Islamic Republic.

Officials were blamed for allowing her into the country. The officials in turn blamed other officials for the embarrassing goof.

Azoulay is a dual Israeli-American national. Her American passport clearly gives her birthplace as Israel. And it isn't--yet--illegal for someone born in Israel to visit Iran. If such a ban is enacted by the Majlis, about a fifth of those kept out of Iran will be Arab Muslims--Palestinians born in Israel.

A Majlis investigation was launched into how Azoulay managed to enter Iran for two weeks--even though there was nothing illegal about her entry. The investigation concluded that the reporter was "not a spy," but that her visit should have been prevented, according to media reports.

The Majlis is now said to be preparing new legislation that would "ban entry to people who were born in Israel in order to prevent similar incidents in the future."

Azoulay, Yedioths Washington bureau chief, has said she did not try to conceal the fact that she was born in Israel and that she entered the country with an official visa from the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

One Majlis deputy appeared unnamed on state television raging against the visit. He accused Azoulay of espionage and the authorities of failing to prevent her entry.

"She has no business here other than espionage," the unidentified deputy said, ignoring her newspaper articles. "The question is: where is our intelligence system?"

Some intelligence officers were quoted as saying the re sponsibility lay with the Culture Ministry, which oversees the foreign press.

Hossain Nooshabadi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, said Azoulay "entered Iran on an American passport. She didn't have a press card and came in as a tourist, an American resident with an American group. The Foreign Ministry and intelligence services must therefore provide an answer."

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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Aug 21, 2015
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