US to let 'Israelis enter visa-free'

World

Published: 2023-09-27 21:32

Last Updated: 2023-12-02 18:12


US to let 'Israelis enter visa-free'
US to let 'Israelis enter visa-free'

The United States said Wednesday it will start letting Israeli Occupation settlers visit without visas.

By the end of November, people from the Occupation will be in the same league as citizens of most Western nations by not needing visas for trips of 90 days or less to the world's largest economy.

"We have been working on this for years, almost a decade," Israeli Occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"I would like to express our appreciation to US President Joe Biden for his support of the initiative, which will further strengthen ties between the two peoples," he said.

Visa-free travel marks "a critical step forward in our strategic partnership with Israel that will further strengthen longstanding people-to-people engagement, economic cooperation, and security coordination," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

He said that the efforts would also bring greater "freedom of movement" for US citizens living in or visiting the Palestinian territories.

A US official briefing reporters insisted that the decision was not a "favor" to Israeli Occupation but the result of progress.

But Biden is also increasingly seeking to work with Netanyahu -- whose hard-right government the US president has frequently criticized -- to seek a historic peace deal with Saudi Arabia.

Ahmed Majdalani, the Palestinian social affairs minister, said the US decision "appears to be a reward" for letting Palestinian Americans enter Israeli Occupation.

"It also confirms that America stands by Israel all the time," he told AFP.

A number of lawmakers from Biden's own Democratic Party had urged Blinken not to go ahead before a Saturday deadline and instead exert pressure for greater change.

"It is clear that Israel is not in compliance with this law as it relates to reciprocal treatment for all US citizens," said a letter signed by 15 senators led by Chris Van Hollen and Brian Schatz, and including Bernie Sanders.