By Amit Acco, Partner |

The Israeli Ministry of Interior’s announcement of the pilot program for the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system, “Marom,” signals a significant step towards modernizing entry procedures for tourists and business travelers entering Israel. While the initiative aims to streamline processes and enhance security measures, it has sparked discussions among relevant organizations regarding its implications. In this essay, we critically examine the potential impacts of the ETA system, particularly in light of feedback received on the proposed Entry Regulations to Israel (Amendment), 2024.

Efficiency and Security in Entry Procedures

The introduction of the ETA system represents a commendable effort by the Ministry of Interior and the Population Authority to adapt to the evolving landscape of travel. By digitizing entry procedures, the system promises efficiency and effectiveness in screening potential security risks. However, it is imperative to ensure that these advancements do not inadvertently create barriers or inconvenience for travelers.

Objective Criteria and Fairness

Data from the Population Authority indicates that Israel currently maintains relatively low entry refusal rates. This suggests that the implementation of the ETA system is unlikely to drastically alter these figures. By leveraging technology to assess and vet travelers, the system has the potential to maintain security standards while facilitating smoother entry processes.

One of the key concerns surrounding the ETA system is the potential for subjective decision-making in determining entry authorization. To address this, clear and objective criteria must be established to guide border controllers in their assessments. By delineating specific circumstances under which authorization may be denied, the regulations can uphold fairness and transparency.

Addressing Concerns and Challenges

Critics have raised concerns about the ETA application form’s inquiries into applicants’ personal relationships with Israelis, particularly family members. Given the potential implications of entry refusal on family dynamics, it is crucial to prevent the ETA requirement from serving as an unjust barrier to the entry of individuals with legitimate ties to Israel.

Another area of contention is the re-entry process for foreigners legally residing in Israel. It is essential to ensure that the regulations facilitate their return without imposing undue burdens, as witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clarifying exemptions for permit holders and collaborating with airlines can help mitigate disruptions and ensure smooth travel for this demographic.

To safeguard against unjust refusal of ETA, robust appeal mechanisms must be in place. Establishing an online “Request for Reassessment” platform would enable applicants to submit additional information for reconsideration, ensuring due process and fairness in decision-making.

Learning from International Models

Flexibility is paramount in accommodating the diverse needs of travelers. Adjustments to the minimum application submission time can enhance accessibility, particularly for urgent or spontaneous visits. By remaining responsive to the evolving needs of travelers, the regulations can better serve the interests of all stakeholders involved.

Moreover, drawing parallels with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) used in the United States and the impending implementation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in the European Union could provide valuable insights.

The ESTA, implemented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, serves a similar purpose to the proposed ETA system in Israel. While the ESTA has streamlined entry procedures for travelers visiting the U.S., it has also faced scrutiny regarding privacy concerns and the potential for discriminatory practices. Similarly, the ETIAS, set to be launched in the EU, aims to strengthen security measures while facilitating travel for eligible visitors. However, challenges such as ensuring data protection and maintaining efficient processing times have been highlighted.

By learning from the experiences of both the ESTA and the forthcoming ETIAS, Israel can enhance the effectiveness and fairness of its own ETA system.


In conclusion, while the ETA system holds promise in enhancing entry procedures for travelers entering Israel, it is crucial to address the concerns raised by relevant stakeholders. By incorporating feedback and implementing robust safeguards, the Ministry of Interior can navigate the transition to the new system while upholding fairness, transparency, and accessibility in the entry process. Ultimately, striking a balance between security imperatives and the rights of travelers is essential in achieving the desired outcomes of the ETA system.