Rashida Tlaib, AOC battle against Israel’s inclusion in US Visa Waiver program

Letter accuses Israel of “disparate treatment” of Palestinian Americans trying to enter Judea and Samaria.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Progressive Democrats led by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) are battling against the Biden administration’s plan to include Israel in the U.S. Visa Waiver program.

The program allows citizens of designated countries to enter the U.S. for 90 days without a visa. Forty countries are already in the program and Israeli officials have been lobbying to be included for years.

However, progressive Democrats have been lobbying the Biden administration not to include Israel over what they call Israel’s “disparate treatment” of Palestinian Americans trying to enter Judea and Samaria.

Haaretz reported that a letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the matter is due to be published today.

In the letter, the Democratic lawmakers argue that Israel’s updated guidelines “further complicates and formalizes previous written and unwritten entry restrictions and requirements for Americans wishing to visit, do business, reunite and reside with their Palestinian families, work or volunteer in those parts of the occupied West Bank under Palestinian Authority (PA) civil and security administration, or study or teach at Palestinian academic institutions.”

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The letter also describes Israeli behavior towards Arab and Muslim Americans at crossing points, “clearly ethnically-based discrimination.”

The letter also notes that in 2019, Israel barred Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from entering the country.

At the time, Israeli officials said that the two promoted boycotts and intended to use their visit to deny Israel’s legitimacy. Israel offered to allow Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, to visit family members in Judea on condition she not promote BDS during the visit.

Tlaib refused.

According to the Interior Ministry, an average of 150,000 Israelis apply for U.S. visas, with around six percent being rejected for administrative or technical reasons.