Interior Ministry director general Ronen Peretz presented a plan to the Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday that he said is aimed at clearing the months-long backlog of appointments to renew Israeli passports.
The Knesset Committee was also warned by Oren Ariav, head of the Population and Immigration Authority’s data system, that applications for new biometric passports will skyrocket once Israel becomes a member of the US visa waiver program.
Peretz told the lawmakers that employees at the ministry will need to work six hours’ overtime daily from Sunday to Thursday at its four major offices in order to clear the backlog. In addition, staff will need to be diverted from other tasks to help process the passports.
In addition, production capacity at the factory where the passports are manufactured will need to be increased. The Population and Immigration Authority will also set up a new center dedicated solely to passport renewals.
The Interior Ministry has yet to clear the plan – and its costs – with the Finance Ministry’s budget division, and no agreement has yet been reached with the Histadrut labor union.
The current waiting time for a new passport averages about 179 days in central Israel, 160 days in the southern region and 132 days in the north.
As a result, about 15 percent of all new passports are being issued as temporary documents at the present time, and dual nationals are being allowed to travel abroad using their foreign passports until July 1.