Israel granted entry into US visa Waiver program

Israel granted entry into US visa Waiver program

Shafaq News / The U.S. government announced on Wednesday it is admitting Israel into a program that will allow visa-free entry by Israeli citizens starting Nov. 30.

Admission to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which Israel's Foreign Ministry said was expected, is a win for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a time when relations between his religious-nationalist government and Washington have been strained over its judiciary overhaul plan and policies toward Palestinians.

Some Palestinians have protested against Israel's entry into the program, saying Israel for decades has discriminated against Arab Americans and harassed them at its borders. Four Democratic U.S. senators including Chris Van Hollen said Wednesday Israel has failed to meet requirements to treat all American travelers equally.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the announcement further "strengthens the security, economic and people-to-people ties between the United States and Israel."

Palestinian-Americans living in the West Bank or living in the United States now can enter Israel visa free, and fly in and out of Ben Gurion airport, reducing barriers to travel for these Americans, the U.S. said.

Netanyahu praised the decision as a "significant and joyous moment for all Israeli citizens."

For admission to the program allowing visitors to stay up to 90 days without a visa, Washington requires countries to meet requirements on issues such as counterterrorism, law enforcement, immigration enforcement, document security, and border management. They also must treat all U.S. travelers equally, so Israel must allow free passage for Palestinian Americans at Ben Gurion airport.


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