update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Liberal groups: Too soon for Israel’s entry into Visa Waiver Program

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a frequent Israel opponent, was among those who claimed that Israeli border policies are unfair to Palestinian Americans.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Stephanie Hallett, head of the U.S. embassy in Israel, during a press conference in Jerusalem, Sept. 28, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Stephanie Hallett, head of the U.S. embassy in Israel, during a press conference in Jerusalem, Sept. 28, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Israel was “prematurely” admitted into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of qualifying countries to enter the country for 90 days sans visa, according to Americans for Peace Now. J Street, another left-wing Jewish group, stated that Israel doesn’t “fully meet the reciprocity standard” of the program.

Along with other groups, their claims hinge on the charge that Palestinian Americans are treated differently from other Americans at Israeli borders—a charge that U.S. State Department spokespeople have repeatedly refuted and that Israel has also contested.

The Biden administration “explicitly condones and enables the Israeli government’s discriminatory practices towards Americans requesting entry, including hours of detainment and interrogation,” stated Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a regular opponent of the Jewish state who also supports the anti-Israel BDS movement.

J Street said it wants Israel to participate but is “concerned that the way the Visa Waiver Program is being implemented today does not yet fully meet the reciprocity standard.” (Americans for Peace Now also said it supports Israel’s participation, but “doing so before Israel has fully complied with all the program’s requirements is a mistake.”)

“By welcoming Israel into the Visa Waiver Program with special exceptions, the Biden administration is bending over backward to accommodate Israel’s occupation,” said Hadar Susskind, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now. “It is clear that Israel is not in compliance.”

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