Washington Announces Final Decision on Admitting Israel to Visa Waiver Program

US President Joe Biden (L) with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: US Embassy Tel Aviv, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Starting November 30, Israelis will be allowed to enter the US without acquiring a visa, Washington announced on Wednesday. 

The decision is considered a lifeline for the embattled government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

“Admission to the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a win for .. 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,” Reuters reported. 

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz described the decision as “historic”, while most Israeli media also celebrated the move. 

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The decision was made despite occasional censure by Washington of Netanyahu’s government and the controversial judicial reforms, which will concentrate most of the political power in the hands of the government by downgrading the importance of the courts. 

The main protest of the US government’s decision came from Palestinians, Arabs, and a few members of Congress. 

Arab US citizens are often harassed or denied entry to Israel without any legitimate reason. This practice, which extended for many years, is likely to continue despite the fact that the Israelis will be given free access to the US. 

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“Four Democratic U.S. senators including Chris Van Hollen said Wednesday Israel has failed to meet requirements to treat all American travelers equally,” Reuters reported. 

Despite this, US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that Washington’s decision “strengthens the security, economic and people-to-people ties between the United States and Israel.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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