U.S. Grants Israel Visa-Free Travel Privileges Amid Controversy

The Biden administration has extended an invitation to Israel to join the ranks of a few countries that enjoy visa-free travel to the United States, reports APNews.

by Faruk Imamovic
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U.S. Grants Israel Visa-Free Travel Privileges Amid Controversy
© Getty Images News/Lior Mizrahi

The Biden administration has extended an invitation to Israel to join the ranks of a few countries that enjoy visa-free travel to the United States, reports APNews. This significant move comes in spite of concerns raised in Washington over the treatment of Palestinian Americans by the Israeli government.

The decision, which culminates over a decade of negotiations, stands as a noteworthy victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had a series of contentious exchanges with the Biden administration.

Bridging Ties and Enhancing Collaborations

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas emphasized that the agreement is set to “enhance our two nations’ collaboration on counterterrorism, law enforcement and our other common priorities”.

He went on to suggest that this move will further solidify the security alliance between the two nations. Additionally, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mayorkas jointly highlighted the boon of enhanced “freedom of movement for U.S.

citizens, including those living in the Palestinian Territories or traveling to and from them”. Netanyahu, reflecting on the development, shared his enthusiasm: “Today we mark an important and joyful moment for all citizens of Israel”.

He went on to elucidate how this change will significantly ease the travel process, saving Israelis "a lot of time, a lot of trouble, and a lot of money”. Recognizing the bond between Israel and the U.S., Netanyahu added that the decision stands as “further evidence of the strong ties between Israel and the United States”.

He expressed gratitude towards President Joe Biden and other officials for bringing this initiative to fruition.

Palestinian Concerns

However, this decision hasn't been devoid of controversy. Palestinian diplomats have voiced their reservations, pointing out that the U.S.

has admitted Israel to the visa-free program without ensuring that the nation upholds its promise of equal treatment for Palestinian Americans. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry’s statement underscored the disparity, urging the U.S.

to act on its proclamations: “At a time when the U.S. administration has repeatedly said that its goal is for Israel to provide the same opportunities of freedom, equality, prosperity, and security for both Palestinians and Israelis, we expect the Biden administration to implement what it believes, works on and promises”.

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