U.S. Is Set To Allow Visa-Free Travel For Israeli Citizens

U.S. Is Set To Allow Visa-Free Travel For Israeli Citizens

Good news for Israeli citizens who want to come to the United States, as it looks like they soon can travel visa-free to the U.S.

President Joe Biden’s administration is set to enact such practices with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen responding that it was “great news” for the country. 

While the United States government has not formally put forward the announcement, it is expected to be made in the coming days. Confirmed by the statement from a spokesperson for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who told Al Jazeera that the “DHS and the State Department will make a final determination in the coming days.”

Israel’s pending acceptance into the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) comes amidst concerns about Israel’s treatment of Arab-American and Palestinian travelers. The pending announcement has proved polarized as Arab-American civil rights advocates have condemned the decision while Israel supporters applaud the decision. 

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One of the main sticking points that is causing a majority of the backlash, is the element of reciprocity which is a key element of the VWP. A similar easing of visa requirements must be allowed by member countries of the VWP. 

As Israeli authorities control access to the occupied Palestinian territories, this is seen as counter to the element of reciprocity. Israel can turn away foreign nationals of Palestinian and Arab descent.

This process of entering the program started back in July when a memorandum of understanding was signed by US and Israeli officials. This trial period ends at the end of the month, hence the comment of the ‘determination in the coming days’.

There is still a lot to unpack as it is unclear whether US citizens in Gaza can leave the territory and what Israel’s right is to deny admission to Americans based on security concerns. There are also some legal ramifications in regards to equal treatment that might violate the US Constitution.