In step toward US visa waiver, Israel starts easing travel curbs on Gazan Americans

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

The arrivals hall at the Ben Gurion Airport, July 11, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
The arrivals hall at the Ben Gurion Airport, July 11, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians publishes new travel guidelines for US citizens from the Gaza Strip who will henceforth be able to enter Israel for short-term stays, to visit the West Bank or to travel abroad.

The move by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is the latest in a series that Israel has taken in order to qualify for the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). A key condition for entry into the VWP is a commitment by the countries that apply to participate to grant equal travel rights to all US citizens. This has been a sticking point for the Biden administration, in light of longstanding allegations of discrimination of Arab and Muslim Americans at Israeli ports.

In August, a senior Israeli official announced that Gazan Americans would indeed be able to enter Israel on a B2 tourist visa, while clarifying that authorities needed another month to prepare.

Israel kept its word, rolling out the eased travel restrictions for Gazan Americans today.

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