The US Embassy in Israel reached out to senior Likud MK Yariv Levin asking for his party not to vote against legislation that is critical for Israel to be able to join the US Visa Waiver Program, a source close to the lawmaker tells The Times of Israel, confirming a Walla news report
Likud had made clear it planned to vote against the legislation in order to stymie the coalition’s attempt to advance a highly popular initiative on the eve of election season.
The source close to Levin says Likud has not reached an agreement with the coalition that would see it assist in passing the legislation.
A similar plea was made to the Joint List party, whom US officials told that Israel’s entry into the VWP would also assist Palestinian Americans, Walla reports. The latter group is often subject to invasive security checks at Ben Gurion Airport and the Biden administration has conditioned Israel’s entry into the VWP on improved treatment for Palestinian Americans at all of Israeli border crossings.
The legislation in question would grant the US limited access to Israeli criminal records — a requirement of all countries that join the VWP. Failure to pass it would likely delay entry into the VWP by an additional year.