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State tells Arab Americans: report entry issues

The U.S. State Department urged Americans of Arab origin to report difficulties encountered entering Israel.

“The United States Government seeks equal treatment for all American citizens regardless of national origin or ethnicity,” said a travel warning issued Wednesday.  “American citizens who encounter difficulties are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv or the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem.” It listed phone numbers of consular officials.

The warning described difficulties that Arab Americans might face.

“American citizens whom Israeli authorities judge (based on their name or other indicators) may be of Palestinian origin are likely to face additional, and often time consuming, questioning by immigration and border authorities,” it said.

The warning came days after Arab American groups sent a letter to Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, urging her to press Israel to lift such restrictions, claiming they violate U.S.-Israel treaties.

The travel warning also warned Americans of Israeli descent that Israel regards them as Israeli citizens.

It repeated warnings urging Americans not to travel to the Gaza Strip and to postpone travel to the West Bank. Americans who do travel to the West Bank are warned to avoid demonstrations and exercise caution at checkpoints.

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