According to reports, despite Washington’s continued reservations over the Israeli government’s treatment of Americans of Palestinian descent, the Biden administration is likely to welcome Israel this week into an elite club that will enable its residents to make trips to the US with no visa.
Israel has long imposed different immigration requirements and screening procedures for Palestinian Americans, citing national security concerns. There have been several complaints about how complex and unfair the processes have been.
There has been a widespread ban on American citizens having Palestinian residence documents in the Gaza Strip and West Bank from using Israel’s international airport. They have been forced to take longer routes that pass via Jordan or Egypt.
U.S. officials said an announcement of Israel’s acceptance into the Visa Waiver Program will happen sometime before the end of September.
Rules show citizens of 40 countries, primarily in Europe and Asia, may visit the United States visa-free for up to three months under a Department of Homeland Security program.
The official announcement will be made eight days after President Joe Biden’s talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Despite months of intensive discussion and debate, the matter was not brought up by the leaders in their short statements to the media at that meeting.
Getting Israel accepted into the scheme has been an ongoing focus for successive Israeli leaders and will be a significant accomplishment for Netanyahu, according to a report, even though he has frequently clashed with the administration over the Palestinian conflict, Iran, and a proposed reinvent of Israel’s court system that critics say will make the country more authoritarian.
Israelis who register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will be exempt from the requirement of a visa for up to 90-day visits to the United States for business or tourism.