We urgently need your voice in a matter of grave concern related to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the recent developments affecting U.S. citizens who are residents of Gaza.
We just learned that American residents of Gaza will not be eligible for visa-free travel directly from Gaza to Israel via the Erez checkpoint. While Israel’s new procedures might align with the misguided July 19, 2023, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on reciprocity, the implications are deeply troubling.
Residents of Gaza must navigate a complex system, requesting permits or visas for short-term visits via the Erez checkpoint, and face 45-day advance request requirements for secure travel to the Allenby Bridge. Furthermore, the Israeli government will “announce and implement new entry procedures by September 15 for Palestinian Americans on the Gaza registry, including those residing in Gaza.” A decision for Israel’s entry into the VWP is supposed to be made by September 30th; implementing new entry procedures on September 15th does not leave enough room for an efficient trial period.
Clearly, “blue is blue” is not an honest sentiment, and the U.S. explicitly says in their official documents that Gazans are excluded from the visa waiver program. This further highlights the absurdity of admitting a country actively engaged in the practice of apartheid into the VWP and the unnecessary complexities it creates for those administering the program.
In essence, the current terms of the MoU between Israel and the U.S. provide Israel with significant loopholes that overlook genuine reciprocity. This guarantees that Palestinian Americans will continue to be treated differently than other travelers. The Visa Waiver Program must embody principles of fairness, non-discrimination, and genuine reciprocity. Regrettably, the current situation with Israel’s impending entry into the VWP fails to meet these essential standards.
That’s why we urge you to take immediate action. Please call the White House hotline at 202-456-1111 and voice your opposition to including Israel in the Visa Waiver Program.
Tell President Biden that the treatment of U.S. citizens residing in Gaza is unacceptable and that this decision must be reconsidered.
Our collective voice can make a difference. Stand with us to ensure that our government upholds the values that define our nation. Thank you for your commitment to justice and your unwavering support. Together, we can make an impact.