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Knesset advances legislation aimed at paving way to enter US Visa Waiver Program

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

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, right, and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked are seen in the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 6, 2021.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, right, and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked are seen in the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 6, 2021.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset advances legislation required for Israel’s entry into the US Visa Waiver Program.

The bill, which passes its first reading, gives US authorities limited access to Israeli criminal records in order to adjudicate visa requests. It is one of several pieces of legislation countries are required to pass in order to join the VWP.

“Another step toward getting visa waivers to the United States,” tweets Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. “Props to Minister Ayelet Shaked for her hard work on the matter.”

The development is only an initial step in the process as the legislation still needs to pass through two more readings. Moreover, the much larger hurdles of lowering the visa application rejection rate below three percent and guaranteeing reciprocal treatment for Palestinian Americans at Israeli border crossings remain.

US and Israeli authorities have expressed hope that Israel will join the VWP in 2023.

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