There was a sharp increase last year in the number of Israeli visa requests turned down by the United States, Arutz Sheva reported on Monday.
According to the State Department’s own figures from 2013, there was an 80% rise in Israeli visa requests that were rejected, continuing a trend of several years.
Last year, about 125,000 Israelis requested tourist visas to the U.S., with 9.7% of them being refused. The previous year in 2012, that figure was at 5.4%.
In 2007, only 2.5% of the requests were denied.
As as result, Israel has lost its place on the “white list,” the list of countries whose citizens can visit the U.S. without a visa. Only nations with a visa rejection rate of less than 3% are allowed on the list.
Sources in the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s consular branch allege that the increase in rejections stems from political motives and is unwarranted. They contend that the rejections were deliberately calculated to take Israel off the “white list.”
“We meet all the requirements to receive an exemption [from visas], aside from the rate of rejections,” noted a Foreign Ministry official who criticized the move as “political.”