WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman introduced legislation to allow Israel into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
Sherman (D-Calif.) this week introduced the Visa Waiver for Israel Act, which would permit nationals from Israel to enter the United States as temporary visitors for tourism or business for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.
“Israel is our closest friend and democratic ally in the Middle East," Sherman said in a statement. "Adding Israel to the Visa Waiver Program will boost business, tourism, and job creation here in the U.S. and enhance cultural ties between our two nations."
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chair of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) were the other two lead co-sponsors of the legislation. Eleven others signed on as co-sponsors.
Following the introduction of the legislation, the Israeli Embassy released a statement in support of the bill.
“This act would stimulate numerous business endeavors, and help promote closer cultural, economic, and touristic ties," it said. "The passage of this legislation would further strengthen the special and deep relationship between Israel and the United States."
Efforts in previous Congresses to add Israel to the list came to nought.
Thirty-six countries, including 30 from Europe, enjoy visa waiver status.