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Israel agrees to ease entry of Palestinian-Americans in bid to join US visa program

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Travelers seen exiting Ben Gurion International Airport, as Israel opens its borders and allows tourists to enter the country, after months of being shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, November 1, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90
Travelers seen exiting Ben Gurion International Airport, as Israel opens its borders and allows tourists to enter the country, after months of being shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, November 1, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90

As part of the steps moving toward entering a visa-free travel agreement with the United States, Israel has agreed to allow Palestinian-Americans to enter freely via Ben Gurion International Airport, a senior Israeli official confirms to the Times of Israel.

Israel has for years been lobbying to enter the US Visa Waiver Program, and has made significant progress in recent months. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked recently predicted that Israel will be able to join the program within a year.

The entry of Palestinian-Americans into Israel has been considered a major sticking point in the negotiations. According to the Kan public broadcaster, the Shin Bet security service agreed to the terms of the agreement with the US.

Shaked said last month that a US committee is slated to travel to Israel in January for meetings with Israeli officials, “with the goal of obtaining a visa waiver by the end of the year 2022.”

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