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Israel First in Middle East in US Visa Waiver Program

September 28, 2023

by: JNS

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The Seattle–Tacoma International Airport in Washington State

Thursday, 28 September 2023 | US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Wednesday that Israel has been admitted officially as the 41st nation in the US Visa Waiver Program.

The announcement, which the secretary made in consultation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, means that as of November 30, Israelis will be able to visit the United States for fewer than 90 days without a visa.

“The designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program is an important recognition of our shared security interests and the close cooperation between our two countries,” Mayorkas stated.

“This designation, which represents over a decade of work and coordination between the United States and Israel, will enhance our two nations’ collaboration on counterterrorism, law enforcement and our other common priorities,” the secretary added. “Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program, and its stringent requirements, will make both of our nations more secure.”

Blinken said Israel’s admission “represents a critical step forward in our strategic partnership with Israel that will further strengthen long-standing people-to-people engagement, economic cooperation and security coordination between our two countries.”

“This important achievement will enhance freedom of movement for US citizens, including those living in the Palestinian territories or traveling to and from them,” he added.

‘A Significant Milestone in the Relationship’

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations welcomed Israel’s admission into the program and called the announcement “long overdue.”

“Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program will bring tangible benefits to both American and Israeli citizens,” stated Harriet Schleifer and William Daroff, chair and CEO, respectively, of the Conference of Presidents.

“The relatives of Jewish Americans in Israel will no longer be forced to go through a lengthy, expensive and cumbersome process to visit their families,” the leaders added.

The two added that Israeli admission into the program is a first for a Middle East nation, which “is emblematic of the deeply-rooted partnership shared by the United States and Israel.”

Michael Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, called the announcement “a significant milestone in the relationship between Israel and the United States.”

“Our people-to-people ties, which are the backbone of our special relationship, will only grow stronger,” he said. “Israelis and Americans will be able to more freely travel between our two countries, interacting and connecting on a personal and professional level.”

The World Jewish Congress stated that the “vitally important” program “boosts homeland security, strengthens business ties, supports people-to-people connections and promotes cross-cultural understanding.”

AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] called Israeli admission to the program “a historic accomplishment that will further strengthen the ironclad partnership between America and Israel, benefiting both countries and ensuring the US-Israel relationship remains strong for years to come.”

Posted on September 28, 2023

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on September 27, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

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