"We have been working with the Americans in order to join the selected group of countries whose citizens are exempt from obtaining an entry visa to the US." -Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked
(Washington, DC)—[JNS.org] Israel's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Monday that Israel is on the verge of finalizing an agreement that would allow Israeli citizens to enter the U.S. without obtaining a tourist visa in advance. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers screen international passengers arriving at Dulles International Airport in November 2016/Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Glenn Fawcett/via JNS.org)
The deal would allow the U.S. to access a new biometric database of Israeli citizens who have been convicted of serious crimes, in the event that an Israeli citizen is suspected of criminal activity punishable by more than 10 years in prison.
The U.S. had previously demanded that it be allowed unrestricted access to Israel's entire biometric database without an Israeli citizen being suspected of committing a crime, but shifted its position after negotiations with Shaked.
"We are completing the agreement to cancel the visas. Since I began my post, we have been working with the Americans in order to join the selected group of countries whose citizens are exempt from obtaining an entry visa to the US," Shaked tweeted Monday. "We have found the balance between maintaining the privacy of Israeli citizens and the American demands."
Shaked is scheduled to travel to the U.S. within two weeks to finalize the agreements, which would come into effect within one to two years. Israel's Knesset must also approve the agreement due to the sensitivity and private nature of the government data that would be shared with U.S. authorities.