Palestinians at the Allenby Border Crossing between the West Bank and Jordan

Israel, in U.S. visa talks, eyes easing access for Palestinian-Americans

Interior Minister Shaked says Washington is demanding easier passage for Palestinians with dual-citizenship as part of Jewish state's entrance to visa waiver program, adding that Shin Bet could oversee screenings

Reuters |
Published: 01.04.22, 13:53
Israel is prepared to permit Palestinian-American dual nationals to transit its territory as part of an emerging U.S. visa waiver deal for its citizens, a top Israeli official said on Tuesday.
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  • With U.S.-sponsored peacemaking long-stalled and violence simmering in the West Bank and in Gaza, Israel strictly limits access by Palestinians - including to the Tel Aviv and Eilat airports, both a few hours' drive from the territories.
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    המתפ"ש מקבל את פניהם של אלפי פלסטינים מיהודה ושומרון בדרכם למכה
    המתפ"ש מקבל את פניהם של אלפי פלסטינים מיהודה ושומרון בדרכם למכה
    Palestinians at the Allenby Border Crossing between the West Bank and Jordan
    (Photo: Defense Ministry)
    Instead, Palestinians coming in from abroad generally make more onerous trips through Jordan and the Israeli-run West Bank boundary, or through Egypt's Sinai desert, which borders Gaza.
    Giving Palestinian-Americans domiciled in the territories an Israel-transit option "is a demand by the Americans going back many years", Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said.
    "The Shin Bet can handle it, and in the context of the visa waivers - if that process does indeed happen - an American who also has Palestinian citizenship will be able to enter Israel like any American," she told reporters.
    The deal could be concluded in February 2023, she added.
    U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price, discussing the visa waiver talks on Dec. 28, said Washington would "continue to work with Israel toward fulfilling the equal treatment of all Americans ... seeking to enter or transit through Israel".
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    נוסעים בנתב"ג
    נוסעים בנתב"ג
    Passengers at Ben-Gurion International Airport
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    Shaked said her staff was also addressing U.S. complaints that Arab-Americans are subject to unusually intrusive questioning by Israeli airport security. Among proposals, she said, was for security agents to receive airline passenger lists 12 hours in advance, to enable more selective screening.
    Another condition for U.S. visa waiver is reducing the current Israeli applicant refusal rate to 3%, both sides say.
    Shaked said 40% of those rejected filled in application forms incorrectly, and that her ministry was considering offering instructional materials to rectify this.
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