Opposition MKs Tell U.S. They Will Pass Visa Legislation


Leaders in the outgoing Knesset opposition parties told U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides that they will pass the necessary legislation for Israel to qualify for the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (WVP).

Legislation was stalled when the opposition refused to pass the necessary legislation before the Knesset was dissolved last week.

The Likud, Shas, UTJ and the Joint List all expressed to the ambassador their readiness to pass the two conditions required for qualification.

American officials say they are confident legislation would be completed because the matter was not in political dispute.

The first requirement of the VWP is full disclosure of criminal and security information on travelers boarding U.S.-bound flights, through the application programming interface (API).

This would grant Americans access to information on passengers bound for the United States upon check-in, providing them with the time to intervene and deny entrance prior to takeoff if need be.

The second requirement involves utilization of passenger name record (PNR) – a code that ties back to a database of information provided by passengers and collected by air carriers, which allows passengers to manage their booking or check-in online. By using this, Americans and Israelis would be able to uncover criminal patterns.

Another condition is that Israel lowers the visa application rejection rate to below 3%. The U.S. still does not have data for this fiscal year’s rejection rate, which is expected in early 2023.

If the data released reveals that Israel managed to drop below 3% rejections, a figure many officials were optimistic about, the chances of officially joining the VWP would be very high. Otherwise, Israel would have to wait another year to apply for inclusion into the VWP.

The advancing legislation, which would exempt Israeli citizens from the need to obtain a tourist visa prior to traveling to the U.S., was among legislation stalled by the scuffles between the opposition and the coalition in the final days before the Knesset was dissolved.

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