Canada to help Venezuelans obtain Israel visas


CARACAS (JTA) — The Canadian embassy in Caracas soon will be able to help Venezuelan Jews obtain Israeli visas.

A Canadian government official made the announcement Wednesday.

Currently, Venezuelan Jews wanting to visit Israel must first travel to other countries that have an Israeli diplomatic mission, typically in Bogota or Miami, to request visas.

Earlier this year, Canada accepted a request from Israel to represent its interests in Caracas after Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez severed relations with the Jewish state over its military offensive in Gaza.

There are hundreds of Jews that have been unable to travel to Israel as a result, the Confederation of Israelite Associations in Venezuela reported in a news release.

According to a spokeswoman for the Canadian government, “someone soon” a the Canadian embassy in Caracas will be able to receive applications for Israeli visas and transfer them to an Israeli embassy abroad that can issue visas. The visas will then be sent back to the Caracas-based Canadian embassy.

“We still do not have a start date for the employee of the government of Israel and are therefore not in a position to provide assistance in obtaining a visa at the moment,” said Virginie Levesque for the Canadian embassy.

Venezuelan Jewish leaders met with members of Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Colombia this week to discuss the visa problem.

Abraham Levy Benshimol, president of Confederation of Israelite Associations in Venezuela, travelled to Bogota to meet with government officials accompanying Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during his 10-day trip to South America.

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