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Israelis to enter US without visas, announces minister

Image of Ayelet Shaked, Israel's new Justice Minister of the far-right Jewish Home party, in Jerusalem May 17, 2015 [REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool]
Ayelet Shaked, Israel's Justice Minister of the far-right Jewish Home party, in Jerusalem May 17, 2015 [REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool]

Israel’s Justice Minister announced on Monday that the plan to cancel US entry visa requirements for Israeli citizens is nearing completion, local media have reported. Ayelet Shaked said that there is an agreement to be implemented soon, which will include permission for the US authorities to access Israel’s biometric fingerprint database.

“[We are] completing the agreement to cancel the visas,” Shaked tweeted. “Since I began my post, we have been working with the Americans in order to join the select group of countries whose citizens are exempt from obtaining an entry visa to the US.” She added that a balance has been found between maintaining the privacy of Israeli citizens and the American demands.

According to one Israeli news website, such an agreement can only be authorised after the Biometric Database Law is amended by the Knesset (parliament). It pointed out that with the existing law, Israeli citizens’ private information cannot be relayed to foreign authorities unless a criminal investigation is involved and, in that case, they may only be given the details temporarily.

Shaked explained that the understanding includes sharing fingerprint databases only in the case of people with a criminal background. This would resolve the Israeli privacy objections to the visa proposal.

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