(JNS.org) The U.S. State Department has begun a policy of denying visa requests from members of Israel’s intelligence and defense sectors, Ma’ariv reported.
According to the Israeli newspaper, senior security personnel said they have seen “hundreds of cases” in which members of the Shin Bet, Mossad, and Israeli defense industry workers have been told they cannot visit the U.S.
Additionally, Israeli security personnel currently working in the U.S. reported being only given short-term visas and being forced to leave for Canada and then reapply. No official statement has been issued by the U.S. State Department on the matter.
Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, said the policy might be the work of some within the State Department who are attempting to undermine U.S.-Israel relations.
“Despite a generally flourishing U.S.-Israel bond, there are those in the bowels of the bureaucracy who wish to derail it and, at times, they achieve small victories,” Pipes told JNS.org.
A previous report said 9.7 percent of Israeli citizens’ tourist visa requests were denied by the State Department in 2013, a nearly 80-percent rise from the previous year. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently called on the State Department to end its “widespread and arbitrary” practice of denying young Israelis visas out of fear that they will overstay their time.
“This arbitrary practice of categorically denying visas to all would-be young travelers due to the actions of a few bad apples is unjustified and counterproductive for the U.S. economy and should end immediately,” Schumer stated.