update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

No Visa Waiver Program update expected from State amid Herzog visit

"I don’t expect any announcement today or tomorrow; I’ll put it that way," said U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Miller Miller, U.S. State Department spokesman, answers reporter questions at the department's press briefing on July 18, 2023. Source: YouTube.
Miller Miller, U.S. State Department spokesman, answers reporter questions at the department's press briefing on July 18, 2023. Source: YouTube.

With Israel reportedly having met all of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program’s eligibility requirements, some thought an announcement could be forthcoming during Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Washington.

The program “enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa,” per the U.S. State Department website

“President Herzog is here today and tomorrow, and then in New York.  There’s been a lot of speculation about the Visa Waiver Program and this pilot program,” Matt Lee, Associated Press diplomatic writer, asked at the July 18 State Department press briefing.

“Is there any chance that even a pilot program could be agreed to until and unless the Israelis actually take steps to treat Palestinian and Arab Americans as the same as they treat Jewish and other Americans?” Lee asked.

Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesman, declined to comment on reports of a pilot program.

“It is an issue, in which we remain in dialogue with the Israeli government, but we have made clear what the positions are for entering into the Visa Waiver Program,” he said. “At this point, Israel does not comply with those conditions.”

Miller added that Foggy Bottom is “hopeful that they will come in compliance with them.”

“Well, yeah, but successive administrations have been hopeful for that for the last, like, decade,” Lee said. “And we remain hopeful,” Miller said.

“Well, I suppose you have to be optimistic if you’re a diplomat. But there isn’t any indication that something is coming soon on this?” Lee said. Miller demurred. “I do not expect—’soon’ is always a relative term. I don’t expect any—I don’t expect—,” Miller began.

“But the President of Israel is here today,” Lee said.

“I don’t expect any announcement today or tomorrow; I’ll put it that way,” Miller said. “If that’s what you mean by ‘soon.’”

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