US says Israel has not met requirements to join Visa Waiver Program – Middle East Monitor


Israel has not met eligibility requirements to participate in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP), the US State Department said on Wednesday, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expected his country to join early, Reuters reports.

Israel is yet to grant free passage to Palestinian-Americans at its airports and into the Occupied West Bank, which Washington says requires Israel to meet the condition of reciprocity to participate in the program, which would allow visa-free access to Israel on the United States. States.

Israel still has significant work to complete on a short timeline to meet all program requirements” by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said by email.

The apparent disagreement came as tensions rose between the allies over a disputed judicial reform plan by Israel.

Netanyahu said earlier on Wednesday that new legislation would mean that Israel would enter in September, and that Israel would, in the coming months, address outstanding needs, which he did not elaborate on.

It was not clear if Israel planned to change its approach to the Palestinian-Americans.

“Participation in the VWP requires that Israel provide equal treatment and rights of entry to all US citizens and nationals, at Israeli ports of entry and checkpoints, just as the United States would grant visa-free travel privileges to citizens of Israel,” the State said. Patel of the Department.

“This includes Palestinian-Americans, including those on the Palestinian Authority’s population registry.”

Before Netanyahu’s announcement, his National Security Adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said on Twitter that Parliament was to ratify the last of four Bills “that will move us towards obtaining a US visa waiver for Israeli citizens”.

That appeared to point to the Knesset’s full approval in final readings Wednesday of a law establishing a new national immigration database related to airline passenger extraditions.

Washington has previously called for better access to databases in Israel about travelers to the United States.

READ: Israel Netanyahu very happy with the reform compromise after Biden’s pride

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