TEL AVIV (AP) — With the United States irked at Israel over its settlement policies and the lack of progress in peace talks, an obscure diplomatic classification has emerged as a new sticking point between the two close allies.
To ease the travel of its citizens, Israel is pressing to join 38 other countries in the US Visa Waiver Program — a prestigious club of nations whose citizens don’t need a preapproved visa to visit America. So far, their efforts have not only been rebuffed, but Israel has seen a spike in the number of young people and military officers rejected entry to the US.
Washington says Israel has not been let into the program simply because it has not met the requirements — and has pointed in part to Israel’s treatment of Arab-American travelers, drawing sharp denials by Israeli officials of any discrimination. US officials say there is no policy in place to make it more difficult for Israelis to get “B” visas, which allow a 90-day stay in the United States for business or travel purposes.
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