U.S. intelligence claims visa waiver for Israel would facilitate espionage


According to a report in Roll Call, the House Judiciary Committee warned that allowing Israelis entry into the U.S. without a visa would make it easier for Israelis to spy.


Officials in the United States intelligence community are opposing admitting Israel to the Visa Waver program – a program easing foreigners’ entry to the country – for fear that this would facilitate espionage, Roll Call reported, Friday. The Visa Waver program, already including 38 countries, would allow Israelis to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without taking out a visa.

Israelis stand in line for visas at the United States Consulate in East Jerusalem.

Israelis stand in line for visas at the United States Consulate in East Jerusalem. – Photo: Curtis Ackerman

Congress members and staffers in the House Judiciary Committee expressed concerns that admitting Israel to the program would make it easier for Israeli spies to enter the U.S., the report in Roll Call claimed based on interviews the website held with lawmakers and staffers that took part in a classified committee briefing several weeks ago. The briefing took place as part of attempts by several congressmen and senators to promote legislation that would admit Israel into the program.

The committee’s chairman Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.) “has heard reservations from the intelligence community about allowing Israel into the visa waiver program because of concerns that it would allow in Israeli spies,” a House Foreign Affairs Committee aide told Roll Call.


American visa in a passport (illustrative) – Photo: Dreamstime

This is the first time that the Americans have based their objections to the move on fear of Israeli espionage, rather than as a response to the discrimination Arab Americans face upon entry into Israel. In past attempts to admit Israel to the program, those who objected said that if Israel was to be admitted to the program it would have to allow all Americans to enter the country without visa without regard to the visitors’ ethnicity.

The briefing took place as the U.S. was considering the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard as a part of a deal to keep the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.


View original HAARETZ publication at:  http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.586303