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Likud source: Party won’t back US visa bill because it eases pressure on Palestinian travelers

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

A Muslim couple poses for a picture at the Duty Free at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 30, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
A Muslim couple poses for a picture at the Duty Free at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 30, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Despite entreaties from the US’s top diplomat in Israel to enable the passage of legislation deemed critical for advancing Israel’s ability to get on the United States’ visa-free list, the opposition-leading Likud party indicates it’s not ready to bend.

A source close to Likud MK Yoav Kisch tells The Times of Israel that his party will not assist in passing the legislation. Kisch and fellow party MK Yariv Levin are leading the opposition’s negotiations with the coalition on how to wrap up Israel’s 24th Knesset. The source adds that the Likud-led opposition won’t support the bill, even if agreement is reached on the current burning issue between opposition and coalition parties: the election date.

The source claims that the law, drafted with input from Ayelet Shaked’s interior ministry, is problematic because it reduces pressure on Palestinian Americans who wish to transit through Israel.

The US requires certain administrative changes in order to consider Israel for entry into the Visa Waiver Program, including creating a database for airlines to record passenger information, in line with standard practice in the United States and Europe.

The United States has also asked Israel to ease entry restrictions for Americans of Palestinian descent who want to fly through Israel on their way to the West Bank.

“We’re for [the Visa Waiver Program],” says the source, “but the law they want to bring, it’s just not a good law.”

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