Israel enters the US visa-free travel program. Joe Biden’s administration has allowed Israeli citizens to visit America without visas since November 30, officials said, cited by Reuters.
The decision, which Israel’s foreign ministry said Monday was expected, was a victory for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of religious and nationalist parties, whose relations with Washington have been strained over plans for judicial reform and policies toward the Palestinians.
US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the decision “further strengthens the security and economic and humanitarian ties between the US and Israel”.
Palestinians with American citizenships living in the West Bank and the United States will now be able to enter Israel without a visa and fly to and from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, reducing barriers for those citizens, US officials said. .
To enter the visa-free travel program, which allows a 90-day visa-free stay in the US, Washington requires applicant countries to meet a number of requirements in the areas of counter-terrorism, law enforcement, migration, identity security and border control.
Program countries must also treat all American travelers equally, regardless of the other passports they hold.
In the case of Israel, this means the free passage of Palestinians with American citizenship at Ben Gurion Airport.
Some Palestinians have protested Israel’s inclusion in the program, citing what they say are decades of discriminatory treatment of Arab American citizens and harassment at Israel’s borders.
In the framework of the pilot period from July 20, Israel facilitated the access of Palestinians with American citizenship through its borders and through the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to Reuters, quoted by BTA.