The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved on Wednesday a bill that would enhance US-Israel defence ties and waived US entrance visa for Israelis.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Congressman Ted Deutch initiated the bill as they are the top two members on the committee’s Middle East subcommittee; they strongly supported the bill, which was unanimously approved.
The bill named Israel a “major strategic ally” of the United States. It included measures that would encourage enhanced cooperation such as missile development, energy and security. No other state has ever got this status.
US weapons reserve stockpiled in Israel are to be expanded according to this bill.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said this bill would “dramatically strengthen the relationship between the two allies as they work to confront new threats and challenges in the Middle East.”
In addition, the bill recommended that Israel join the US visa waiver programme. However, several US Senators protested against Israel’s strict treatment of US citizens from Middle Eastern backgrounds and called for putting more restrictions on Israelis entering the country.
The US Department of State recently published a report in which it noted that prevention of Israelis entering into US soil has increased by 80 per cent compared with 2007.
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Monday that the number of Israelis who applied for US visas last year was 125,000; 10 per cent were denied. This is almost twice as many as those denied visas in 2012, when 5.4 per cent were not issued visas.
The report showed that the number of Israelis who’ve been denied entry into the US is increasing as in 2007 the figure was at 2.5 per cent.