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NGO: US-Israel visa waiver bill 'dead in the water'
Published Saturday 14/12/2013 (updated) 31/12/2013 14:46
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US President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu walk away after a news conference in Jerusalem, March 20.
(Reuters/Larry Downing)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A bill that would have included Israel in a visa waiver program with the United States is "dead," as the House of Representatives has left for the year, an American nonprofit organization said Friday.

The US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act -- a bill which critics said would have codified into US law discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans at Israel's borders -- is "dead in the water," Arab American Institute said in a statement.

"The bills never ... came to the floor of the House or Senate for a vote," the AAI statement said.

Pro-Israel lobby groups including AIPAC have been advocating for the bill since it was introduced in March, citing as its advantages an economic boost due to Israeli tourism in the US and greater ease of travel for Israelis, who under current US law are required to apply for a visa before arrival.

But opponents say language in the bill is "lopsided," requiring the US to admit all Israeli citizens while allowing Israel to maintain discriminatory practices against Americans who are Arab or Muslim, or who are pro-Palestinian activists.

The bill would have allowed Israel "an exemption to reciprocity," the head of a Washington-based nonprofit wrote in the New York Times in October.

"In other words, Israel would get to determine which American citizens it permits to enter," Yousef Munayyer of the Palestine Center wrote in an op-ed.

He cited the cases of Nour Joudah and Sandra Tamari, two Palestinian-American women who were denied entry to Israel in 2012, as examples of the Israeli discrimination that would have been legalized by the current version of the visa-waver bill.

Joudah spent a year teaching English at the Friends School in Ramallah, but after a vacation was denied re-entry by Israel border authorities even though she carried a valid Israeli-issued work visa. Similarly, Tamari flew into Israel to attend an interfaith conference, but was denied entry and banned from the country for 10 years after refusing to provide Israeli interrogators with the password to her email account, according to the op-ed.

Activist backlash against the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act was "about the United States standing up for the rights of its citizens -- all its citizens -- in the face of bigotry," AAI said.

Though all congressional discussions concerning the bill are now tabled, pro-Israel lobby groups may promote a similar version in 2014.

"AIPAC and its allies may come back in March with the same (pro-Israel) ask, but now they know that when it comes to codifying discrimination against our community, they're overreaching."


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1 ) southparkbear / usa
14/12/2013 16:22
this bill makes so much sense it will be here to stay inshallah next year

2 ) Northparkbear / USA
14/12/2013 18:13
Inshallah israel is sidelined, and rebuked

3 ) Mel / USA
14/12/2013 21:46
NO! Israeli's who are pro-racist,pro-apartheid,anti-pluralism,pro-Absolutist &antidemocracy have NO RIGHT in USA w/out tight visa checks.Israeli/US dual-citizens already enjoy(illegal)benefits of a democratic passport & a THEOCRATIC passport.But Israel is not the 51st State of USA &never will be.Zionism in Israel is anathema to American pluralism,particularly as it follows the path of Nazism/fascism.That should NOT be partnered with USA,unless D.C.has COMPLETED abandoned all we fought&died for.

4 ) Rene / US
14/12/2013 22:22
As it should be #2, and further and continually. The arrogant continuously overreach. They always wish to exempt themselves from reciprocity and responsibility. And too often stupid people comply.

5 ) westparkbear / USA
15/12/2013 03:17
@2 northparkbear - it was, yay! :-)

6 ) Colin Wright / USA
15/12/2013 05:14
It's nice that there are some acts of moral corruption so obscene that even Israel can't bully us into committing them. Maybe there's hope for us after all.

7 ) Dr. XYZ / USA
15/12/2013 08:55
I am an American citizen of Palestinian decent, I have been denied to enter Palestine( temporary known as Israel), and I am ready to testify in front of the congress and show them the entry rejection stamp on my American passport. So how does this deal with this current Israeli attitude will serve us as American citizens. We urge congress to reject this New deal unless the Israelis accept to grant all Americans regardless of their background the right of entry to Palestine.

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
18/12/2013 20:08
Really Dr. XYZ, be sensible, Israel, whether you, or I, like it or not, is here to stay. Get the cloud-dust out of your eyes and do, or write, something which will ameliorate the situation.

9 ) Colin Wright / USA
20/12/2013 06:32
Re 'Colin Wright' #8. Not me. Some wretched Zionist lacking anything beyond dishonesty in his intellectual armory.

10 ) Casey-at-the-Train / Great Britain
24/12/2013 15:42
Who's the real Colin Wright? Quite a dilemma.

11 ) Carlos / usa
30/12/2013 05:23
The real Colin Wright is the one who points out the ridiculous positions of paid israeli propogandists. I like the real Colin Wright.
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