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US contradicts Israeli foreign minister on ‘premature’ Visa Waiver announcement

Eli Cohen announced the waiver on Monday night

Illustration of passports and a travel visa the US, September 23, 2023. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The United States contradicted an earlier statement by Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who announced on Monday night that Israel had completed all the steps necessary to enter the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Officials at the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Israel were reportedly fuming about Cohen’s “premature” announcement.

“The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, will make a determination in the coming days,” they stated.

“To announce before us a decision that we are supposed to announce, that touches on our national security in order to receive some doubtful credit – that’s some nerve,” American officials told their Israeli colleagues, according to Israel’s Channel 12 news.

Cohen had announced that Israel successfully completed the process which first began last year. “This is great news for all Israeli citizens,” he said, adding, “Within a few weeks, Israelis will be able to visit the United States without the need for a long wait for a visa from the US Embassy.”

The official announcement of the U.S. decision is expected on Thursday, Sept. 28.

The VWP enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States as a tourist or on business for stays of up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. Israelis are currently required to go through a lengthy visa application process, even for tourism purposes.

In July, Israel eased travel restrictions for Palestinians who possess U.S. citizenship as part of the VWP admission process.

This allows Palestinian Americans to travel to and across Israel for up to 90 days, including via Ben-Gurion International Airport, the main international hub in Tel Aviv.

U.S. citizens who are residents of the Palestinian Authority (PA) were allowed to apply for permits to enter Israel without a visa, like all other American citizens who are permitted to visit and stay in Israel for up to 3 months.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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