The US Congress will debate a bid to exempt Israeli citizens from applying for an entry visa prior to visiting the US for periods of less then 90 days, for tourism and business purposes.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows foreign nationals to visit the country without a visa, currently admits 37 countries, including western and central European countries, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia.
The House of Representatives has voted for admitting Israel to the plan before, but the bid was rejected in the Senate.
Israel has been asking to join the plan since 2005, but did not fulfill two basic terms: Not all Israelis have biometric passports, and the entry visa rejection percentage of Israelis is higher than 3%.
Another dispute is Israel’s insistence on stricter security checks for Palestinian-US citizens entering the Jewish state. The US demands that they be subjected to the same security checks as any American citizen.
On Tuesday Congressmen Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) will hold a press conference in favor of the bid. The two champion the initiative, which currently has the support of 26 representatives from both parties. Democrat Ron Wyden from Oregon is advocating the proposal in the Senate.