A coalition of 15 Democratic senators is urging the Biden administration to reconsider Israel's inclusion in the U.S. visa waiver program due to concerns about its unequal treatment of Palestinian Americans seeking entry to the country.
In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the senators have called for an immediate meeting before Israel's scheduled entry into the program at the end of this month.
A spokesperson from the U.S. State Department emphasized that Israel's eligibility for the program hinges on meeting all VWP (Visa Waiver Program) requirements, which include extending equal privileges to all U.S. citizens, regardless of their national origin, religion, or ethnicity.
The senators' letter, initially reported by the Walla news website, highlights Israel's ongoing discrimination against Palestinian Americans who hold U.S. citizenship when they arrive at Israeli entry points. This discrimination is seen as a violation of the conditions set for Israel's participation in the visa waiver program.
One specific concern raised by the senators is that Palestinian Americans residing in the West Bank encounter restrictions on their ability to drive into Israel, while other American citizens enjoy the freedom to travel between the West Bank and Israel without such impediments.