3rd Thursday Action Alert: Tell Congress to oppose Israel’s inclusion in the US visa waiver program until it pledges not to discriminate against certain U.S. citizens
The United States Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a program which waives a visa requirement for foreign nationals of approximately 40 countries for short-term stays in the U.S. It is reciprocal in nature, i.e. the other country must accept the same or similar conditions for US travelers to those countries.
For some time, the State of Israel has been interested in being a part of the program. However, since Israel announced and began implementing its new regulations – effectively restricting the ability of certain persons, including some U.S. citizens of Arab heritage or Muslim faith, to travel to or reside in the occupied West Bank — concerns have been raised about this discriminatory policy.
Last month, Representatives Donald Beyer (D-VA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and 18 other House members wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling upon the Biden Administration to “press Israel to withdraw” the discriminatory regulations “as a requirement for Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).”
Beyer and Tlaib’s letter noted that the Department of Homeland Security had earlier told them that “Israel does not currently meet all VWP designation requirements, including extending reciprocal visa-free travel privileges to all U.S. citizens and nationals.” Also in mid-October, Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department said that in discussions with Israel on their candidacy for the VWP they “… continue to work with Israel towards fulfilling all Visa Waiver Program requirements such as extending reciprocal privileges to all U.S. citizens and nationals, including Palestinian Americans. And we seek equal treatment and freedom to travel for all U.S. citizens regardless of national origin.”