Visa Waiver Program
US rejoins UNESCO
VISA WAIVER PROGRAM
For a long time, Israel has been trying to join the U.S. Visa Waiver Program but faced multiple hurdles along the way. The desired exemption would allow Israelis to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa. Israel will launch a test pilot in July, enabling Palestinian-Americans to enter its borders more freely in order to assess the country’s preparedness to join the program.
At the moment, Palestinians cannot travel through Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv and they are not allowed to build their own airport. Therefore, Palestinian travelers must enter Israel either through Jordan or Egypt. At the request of the U.S., under the one-month trial period, Palestinian-Americans will be able to apply for a 90-day travel authorization to enter Israel via the military liaison to the Palestinians, the Unit for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
US REJOINS UNESCO
After a five-year break, the United States has decided to rejoin UNESCO beginning in July.
In 2018, former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from UNESCO - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - reportedly because of anti-Israel bias and the need for better management.
The U.S. had provided an estimated 22% of UNESCO’s budget until 2011. Under U.S. law, funding to any United Nations agency that recognizes the Palestinian Authority's demands for their own state is prohibited. After the PA became a full member of UNESCO in 2011, the Obama administration had to stop providing funding altogether.
Now the U.S. is reportedly returning to UNESCO to counter China’s growing influence in the organization.
Protests against the Israeli government are expected to intensify this week, following the collapse of the talks between coalition and opposition representatives to reach a compromise on the judicial reform. Organizers of the protests announced that they are planning to disrupt activities at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday, July 3. Other protests are slated to begin Saturday night.
These demonstrations come as the government prepares to make advances on the reform. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin wish to move ahead with reducing Israel’s Supreme Court’s grounds for reasonableness in dismissing or overruling Knesset legislation. Their goal might be stalled for a few more weeks, since it is unlikely that the government will manage to bring the bill up for a vote as early as this week. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week, Netanyahu said he threw out the controversial "override clause."
The American Embassy in Israel will hold an Independence Day celebration, just before Ambassador Tom Nides is about to steps down from his position. The embassy has invited some Israeli lawmakers, diplomats, celebrities and dignitaries to attend the occasion. In May, Nides announced he would leave his post this summer.
This week we are also keeping an eye on these developing stories:·
... Is Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry getting a boost from Christians?
... Does Ezekiel’s ‘War of Gog & Magog’ warn that judgment is coming to Russia?
... Druze clash with police over Golan Heights wind turbine project. What are the key issues?
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.