Nides Pushes, Likud Doesn’t Budge, on Visa Waiver

By Hamodia Staff

Thomas R. Nides, U.S. Ambassador to Israel. (U.S. Department of State)

YERUSHALAYIM – U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides continued to press Israel to pass legislation requisite to joining the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, and the Likud party continued to stall, saying the matter wasn’t urgent.

“Continuing to work hard to get Visa Waiver Program done to benefit both Israelis and Americans. Can’t slow down now,” Nides tweeted on Tuesday, in a bid to get Israel into the VWP by late 2023.

Subsequently, Channel 12 published an unsourced report claiming that Nides had recently met with opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu to exhort him to shift his support to the enabling legislation in order to avoid a year’s delay in entering the VWP.

The three bills granting U.S. authorities limited access to the information of U.S-bound travelers — as required of all VWP members —have been blocked by the Likud-led opposition.

The concern is that if the Knesset does not expedite the legislation in the coming months, despite the election recess, Israel will have to wait until 2024 to be added to the VWP, assuming it meets the criteria.

Responding to the report, the Likud issued a statement saying that the pressure was unjustified.

“After we form a stable government, the Likud will submit the necessary, but responsible, legislation [to the Knesset] and complete the move by March 2023, so that inclusion in the VWP will not be delayed even one day,” the party says.

The reference to “responsible” legislation was apparently to Likud’s objection to elements of the bills which it says would violates the privacy rights of Israelis.

The bill is believed, however, to be largely modeled on legislation passed in the 40 other countries who have joined the VWP.

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