Tom Nides and Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli opposition lawmakers tell U.S. they will pass visa legislation

After political disputes prevented a vote on bill, U.S. envoy appealed to opposition to prevent delay in Israel's inclusion in the VWP; Israel must still comply with under 3% rejection rate for visa applicants

Itamar Eichner |
Published: 07.04.22, 09:13
Leaders in the outgoing Knesset opposition parties told U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides that they will pass the necessary legislation for Israel to qualify for the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (WVP).
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  • Legislation was stalled when the opposition parties refused to pass necessary bill before the Knesset was dissolved last week.
    The Likud, ultra-orthodox parties and the Joint List all expressed to the ambassador, their readiness to pass the two conditions required for qualification.
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    בנימין נתניהו בישיבת הסיעה
    בנימין נתניהו בישיבת הסיעה
    Tom Nides and Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch, AP)
    American officials say they are confident legislation would be completed because the matter was in coconscious and not in political dispute.
    The first requirement of the VWP was full disclosure of criminal and security information on travelers boarding U.S.-bound flights, through the application programming interface (API).
    This would grant Americans access to information on passengers State's bound upon check-in, providing them with the time to intervene and deny entrance prior to take-off if need be.
    The second requirement involves utilization of passenger name record (PNR) - a code that ties back to a database of information provided by passengers and collected by air carriers, which allows passengers to manage their booking or check in online. By using this, Americans and Israelis would be able to uncover criminal patterns.
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    ארה"ב ויזה דרכון
    ארה"ב ויזה דרכון
    Visa
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    Another condition is that Israel lowers the visa application rejection rate to bellow three percent. The U.S. still does not have data for this fiscal year's rejection rate, which is expected in early 2023.
    If the data released reveals that Israel managed to drop below three percent rejections, a figure many officials were optimistic about, the chances of officially joining the VWP would be very high. Otherwise, Israel would have to wait another year to apply for inclusion into the VWP.
    The advancing legislation, which would exempt Israeli citizens from the need to obtain a tourist visa prior to traveling to the U.S., was among legislation stalled by the scuffles between the opposition and the coalition in the final days before the Knesset was dissolved
    Nides called on MKs to overcome the political disputes and avoid unnecessary delays in Israel's inclusion in the VWP.
    "I've been working around the clock since I arrived to help Israel meet all the requirements to join the #VisaWaiverProgram," Nides wrote on his Twitter. "Don't lose momentum now. This will help Israeli citizens travel to the U.S. - put them first!"

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