Administration Biden admits Israel into a select group of countries whose citizens are allowed to travel to the United States without obtaining a Visa beforehand.
The decision announced Wednesday comes despite concerns from Washington over the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinian Americans and marks a major achievement for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has often sparred with the Biden administration. Under the exemption program, from November 30, 2023, Israelis will be able to travel to the United States for professional or leisure purposes during 90 days maximum without a visa, simply by registering with the electronic travel authorization system, ESTA, a much cheaper and faster process than obtaining the standard B-1/B-2 visa.. But even s Although they are allowed to travel under this system, US authorities at the airport can still bar them from entering the country.
The American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the decision Wednesday after the State Department confirmed that Israel had committed to full reciprocity, granting Palestinian-Americans living in UNITED STATES and in West Bank visa-free access to Israel. Israel’s application to join the visa waiver program has dragged on for months due to concerns that the government will continue to impose additional barriers to entry for Arab Americans. The United States says it will monitor Israel’s pledges to ensure reciprocity provisions are respected.
“Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program represents a crucial step in our strategic partnership with Israel that will further strengthen the long-standing people-to-people engagement, economic cooperation and security coordination between our two countries “Blinken commented on Wednesday. “This important achievement will strengthen the freedom of movement of American citizens, including those living in or traveling to and from the Palestinian territories. » Blinken said Israel had “made a significant whole-of-government effort” to meet the requirements of the program which required a series of new laws, new information sharing systems and updated entry processes for US citizens.