Three senior Haaretz journalists on Monday cited Israeli security and legal officials who have warned the political echelon that the agreement exempting Israelis from an entry visa to the US includes conditions that would damage the state’s security (מקורות ביטחוניים: הסכם הפטור מוויזה עם ארה”ב עלול להזיק לביטחון ישראל).
These officials spoke in closed discussions that were recently with representatives of the Foreign and other government ministries, as well as the defense establishment. Several participants pointed out problematic clauses in the waiver agreement, which they said had not been known to the defense establishment previously.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of 40 countries to enter the United States for 90 days without the need for a visa. In return, these countries allow US citizens the same privileges. In March, the Knesset plenum approved in second and third readings a bill titled, “Authority to collect and diagnose of data regarding passengers entering or leaving Israel, 5783-2023.” 18 MKs voted in favor, and none objected. As far as the US and Israel are concerned, at least officially, it’s a go.
Here’s the rub: one of the US administration’s key conditions for ratifying the agreement is that American citizens entering Israel will receive the same treatment as Israelis entering the US. This must apply to “Palestinians” with American citizenship visiting the PA and the Gaza Strip, as well as to Arab Americans coming from countries that are hostile to Israel. The US will not put up with discrimination against its citizens due to their place of residence.
Also, Americans whose visa expires in Israel will be able to renew it if they go to another country and come back. The US is obligated to warn Israel about the planned entry of terrorists and criminals, but Israel’s tough, no-nonsense security officials warn of the glaring loopholes such a turnstile is inviting.
But wait, there’s more: the US demands that Israel exempt from a security check “Palestinian” Americans with a VIP card issued by the Palestinian Authority. The Americans initially estimated there were 5,000 such VIPs, but a thorough examination revealed that there are at least 20,000 VIP “Palestinians” that Ramallah vouches for. The Netanyahu government will have a hard time explaining this to its voters, some of whom might be fired on by those VIPs, God forbid.
Biden administration senior officials who visited Israel recently warned that if Israel does not quell the settler attacks on their murderous Arab neighbors, the whole visa waiver thing would be in jeopardy. They also demanded the swift prosecution of Netzah Yehuda battalion soldiers who were involved in the death of an Arab American named Omar Abdul Majeed As’ad in January 2022.
A source that has been involved in the visa waiver negotiations from the start told Haaretz that “the Biden administration has been consistent in its demands from Israel throughout. There were political parties in Israel who tried to minimize or obscure the demand for reciprocity, but it is a significant demand, without which it will not be possible to complete the process. The meaning of reciprocity is equal and fair treatment for American citizens entering Israel, without any discrimination, as Israel expects its citizens to be treated.”
But, you know, Israel does not expect the US to offer equal treatment to Israeli criminals looking to violate American laws and murder American citizens. By all means, refuse them entry.