By Amit Acco |

According to Senior Officials, the Israeli Interior Minister has recently updated the US Ambassador on the decision to ease the entry to Israel and the West Bank through Ben Gurion Airport for Palestinian-Americans. This announcement was made as a positive response to the US demand in talks with Israel on joining Visa Waiver Program (VWP), planned to be implemented in 2023.

It is not yet clear what new mechanism would be put in place to allow US citizens of Palestinian descent to travel through Ben Gurion Airport with greater ease, or when will it be implemented.

Background

US national Palestinians traveling to Israel:

Currently, US nationals registered in the Palestinian Authority population registry, including those whom Israeli authorities believe may have a claim to a Palestinian ID card, are prohibited from entering Israel through Ben Gurion Airport, without advance permission, regardless of other nationality, including U.S. citizenship, or place of residence.

These individuals are permitted to enter the West Bank but are required to enter and depart from Jordan, through the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge, using either a valid Palestinian Authority (PA) passport without an exit permit or a PA ID card together with an exit permit.

Israeli nationals Travel to the US:

Currently, Israel is not part of the VWP, and as such, the US law requires Israelis to apply for a visa in advance of their travels to the US,  A process that may takes months, as it requires in most cases scheduling an appointment at the US embassy for a background interview at the US consulate, followed by submission of the passport to the embassy, and it usually takes at least several weeks before it is returned with a visa inside.