United States President Joe Biden
The Biden administration has officially announced that it will permit Israeli nationals to travel to the United States without requiring a visa, as part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
This decision has sparked controversy and raised concerns regarding Israel's treatment of Palestinian and Arab-American travelers.
The US Department of Homeland Security stated on Wednesday that Israeli nationals would gain visa-free travel access to the US by November 30.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas emphasized the significance of designating Israel for the Visa Waiver Program, citing it as recognition of shared security interests and close cooperation between the two nations.
Mayorkas noted that this designation represents the result of over a decade of collaborative efforts between the United States and Israel, which is expected to enhance collaboration in areas such as counterterrorism and law enforcement.
In Wednesday’s statement, the Biden administration said Israel “made updates to its entry policies to meet the VWP requirement to extend reciprocal privileges to all US citizens without regard to national origin, religion, or ethnicity”.
“This important achievement will enhance freedom of movement for U.S. citizens, including those living in the Palestinian Territories or traveling to and from them,” added US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The Israel's entry into the Visa Waiver Program has been welcomed by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and was announced shortly after a meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.