Israel Clears Major Hurdle on Way to U.S. Visa Waiver

Israel came closer to joining the U.S. Visa Waiver Program Thursday, after Public Security Minister Omer Barlev signed an information-sharing agreement with Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Yerushalayim Jonathan Schreier in the presence of Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

In March, Jerusalem signed its first information-sharing agreement with Washington which will enable the full disclosure of criminal and security information of Israelis boarding US-bound flights, which is the first requirement in the process.

The second agreement allows Israel to share information directly with the FBI, and vice versa, to check fingerprints from each other’s country’s citizens in order to identify criminal behavior, which is the second requirement.

The agreement “is of strategic importance to the State of Israel,” Barlev said. “It will regulate mechanisms to increase cooperation between the Israeli and U.S. administrations in the war on organized crime and terrorism through advanced systems that will allow monitoring and detecting potential suspects.”

Shaked added, “Even though the Likud is trying to delay the exemption for visas for Israelis that is in the most advanced stage it’s ever been in, we are continuing to run with it as well as advancing more agreements that are a condition for entering the waiver program.

“That’s it, all the agreements have been signed, now we just need to pass it in Knesset,” she said.

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