Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked

Knesset squabble jams up Israel's accession to U.S. Visa Waiver Program

Opposition refuses to back two key bills required by Washington before dispersal of parliament due to procedural matters; ambassador warns impasse could delay Israel's induction into program by many months

Itamar Eichner |
Published: 06.28.22, 14:32
Israel's accession to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program has hit a roadblock on Tuesday as the country's coalition and opposition failed to reach an agreement on procedural matters ahead of the upcoming dispersal of the Knesset.
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  • The issue arose as the sides were locked in Sisyphean horse-trading over the passing of a raft of bills before the legislature is dissolved.
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    Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked
    Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked
    Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked
    (Photo: Dana Kopel, Shutterstock, Yoav Dudkevitch)
    Likud has refused to back two key bills sponsored by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, which Washington requires before Israel is inducted into the program, unless the upcoming election is set for October 25.
    The bills pertain to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's requirement for full disclosure of criminal and security information on travelers boarding U.S.-bound flights.
    The political impasse on the issue prompted U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides to call Interior Minister Shaked and urge her to "do everything" so that these two bills are passed.
    2 View gallery
    תומס ריצ'רד ניידס בשגרירות בירושלים
    תומס ריצ'רד ניידס בשגרירות בירושלים
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    Otherwise, he warned that Israel's accession to the prestigious program will be delayed at least until a new government is formed and the required legislation is approved in the next Knesset, a process that could take many months.
    Israel has made strides toward joining the program over the past year and is closer than ever to achieving that goal. A senior diplomat in the embassy in Jerusalem said that the progress that the country has made in the past six months was greater than it has in the 15 years prior.
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