Biden Administration Announces Visa-Free US Travel for Israelis



The Biden administration announced a new policy allowing Israeli citizens to enter the U.S. without a visa. The decision was made after the successful monitoring of a pilot effort since July, where Israel allowed over 100,000 U.S. citizens to enter Israel without a visa. Several groups had opposed this move, citing discrimination against Palestinian Americans, it was confirmed that all Americans would be eligible to travel without a visa to Israel.

Biden Administration Announces Visa-Free Entry for Israeli Citizens

The Biden administration recently announced a decision to include Israel in its visa waiver program, a move aimed at bolstering diplomatic relations between the US and Israel.

This policy shift requires Israel to reciprocate, simplifying access for American citizens, particularly Palestinian Americans who frequently encounter travel restrictions to Palestinian territories.

Following a successful pilot effort since July, the officials acknowledged that over 100,000 U.S. citizens, including a significant number of Palestinian Americans, have entered Israel visa-free.

Now, US citizens wishing to visit the West Bank can fly directly to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport and travel overland. This new policy bypasses the previous requirement for Palestinian Americans to first travel to Jordan.

Visa-Free Entry for Israelis to the US in Progress

The formalities for Israeli citizens to gain visa-free US travel are underway, with completion expected by Nov. 30, according to administration officials. This provision faced initial opposition due to concerns over equitable treatment of Americans, including Palestinian Americans. A Sept. 8 letter to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken highlighted these issues.

Despite this, US officials confirmed Israel had met the agreement’s criteria, rendering all Americans eligible for visa-free travel to Israel. However, a lawsuit filed by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee seeks to halt the agreement, citing discrimination against Palestinian Americans.

Biden Navigates Complex Diplomacy with Israel

Along with the visa waiver program, the Biden administration aims to navigate complex diplomatic goals with Israel, pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on contentious judicial reforms and encouraging actions toward normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia. The discussions on normalization so far, though, have centered around Saudi Arabia’s demands of the US, rather than specific demands on Israel regarding Palestinian rights.

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