Today, Israel's Coordinating Office for Government Affairs in the Territories’ (COGAT) new West Bank regulations will come into effect. Among the regulations are draconian restrictions intended to micro-engineer the public and private lives of Palestinians (including American citizens) that would subject them to a restrictive screening process and arbitrarily limit entry to the West Bank. Unfortunately, Palestinian-Americans are already not afforded the same basic rights as other American passport holders when traveling to Israel and the Occupied Territories –these new procedures officially codify Israel’s informal pervasive discriminatory practices.
At the same time, Israel is requesting to join the United States Visa Waiver Program. If they were deemed eligible, this program would ease and expedite the entry process for Israeli travelers visiting the United States. Until now, Israel has been denied admission to the program due to its failure to give reciprocal treatment to US travelers. The formal implementation of COGAT’s discriminatory practices brings Israel further from eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program.
We support Israel’s admission into the Visa Waiver Program. But if, and only if, they meet all of the
requirements. And it is clear that currently, they do not.
Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is leading an important letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking the administration to address the unfair and discriminatory treatment of US citizens attempting to travel to Israel and the West Bank and to assure that Israel meets the reciprocity requirement before allowing entry into the Visa Waiver Program.
Before Israeli passport holders can receive special treatment from the United States, Israel must treat all of our citizens equally and afford all Americans the same basic rights.
Click here to ask your member of Congress to sign on to this important letter.