Israel qualifies for US visa waiver program – report

Israelis will be able to travel to the U.S. without obtaining visas in advance; Gazans and PA residents with American citizens now entitled to travel for 90 days within Israel, use Ben Gurion Airport.

By World Israel News Staff

Biden administration officials have informed their Israeli counterparts that Israel has qualified for a visa waiver with the U.S. and a formal announcement regarding the development is expected to occur next week, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

Israel will be the 41st country to join the U.S.’s visa waiver agreement.

By mid-November, Israeli citizens are expected to be able to travel to the U.S. without visas, needing only to register on the ESTA website and provide identifying details before their flights.

In August 2023, the American Embassy in Israel said in a statement that the Biden administration “will make a final decision on Israel’s admission to the Visa Waiver Program by September 30, 2023.”

Notably, the agreement will impact Palestinians who hold American citizenship, allowing visa-free travel for residents of PA-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

The statement from the embassy stressed “mutual reciprocity,” meaning that residents of those regions who are dual nationals will now be able to utilize Ben Gurion Airport for international travel, following a pilot program for the change quietly initiated in recent months.

They will also be able to travel freely as tourists within Israel for up to 90 days at a time.

Previously, Gazans and PA residents needed special permits and clearance by Israel’s intelligence and security agencies.

Last month, a prominent pro-Palestinian activist who has called for the destruction of Israel and for Zionists to be slaughtered toured the Jewish State, despite having been denied entry to the country in 2015.

The U.S. “remains committed to ensuring receipt of all relevant information necessary to evaluate Israel’s full implementation of its commitments” regarding easing travel restrictions for Palestinians, the statement continued.

“Should Israel be admitted to the Visa Waiver Program, Israeli citizens will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa, following a transition period.”