Where’d you say you come from again?
The US State Department is denying visas to senior members of Israeli security forces whose work is connected to Israeli rule in the West Bank, Channel 10 reported Tuesday night, citing “pro-Israel sources” on Capitol Hill.
The effort to identify officers and commanders from the IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad, and other organizations stems from a fear that these individuals may have played a part in violating Palestinians’ human rights.
The US administration did not confirm the report, but did say last week that Israel’s discrimination against visiting Arab Americans is the primary reason it is not eligible for a program allowing Israeli tourists in to the United States without visas.
“The Department of Homeland Security and State remain concerned with the unequal treatment that Palestinian Americans and other Americans of Middle Eastern origin experience at Israel’s border and checkpoints, and reciprocity is the most basic condition of the Visa Waiver Program,” Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said March 21 in her daily briefing with reporters.
The Tsarnaev boys are welcome, but you Joos can just git. (I’m hearing Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke.)
Israel says its rate of refusal of entry for Arab Americans is not disproportionate and notes that under the Oslo agreements with the Palestinians, foreigners of Palestinian descent undergo a different entry protocol.
Doesn’t seem unreasonable under the circumstances.
Psaki’s remarks came after several weeks in which a number of lawmakers, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have criticized US consular services for their rate of refusal of young Israelis.
In addition to Schumer, other lawmakers who have pressed the State Department to explain the spike in the rate of refusal include Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Obama-Kerry State Department may bitch-slap Israel with one hand, but it offers flowers with another:
The United States has proposed freeing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in a trade-off deal in which Israel would agree to proceed with the next round of prisoner releases, including Israeli Arab prisoners, and the Palestinian Authority would agreed to extend the current peace talks, Israel’s Army Radio reported Wednesday.
It said the offer had been conveyed to Israel and the PA, but there was no official confirmation. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted telling journalists accompanying Secretary of State John Kerry to a meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday morning that there were currently no plans to release Pollard, who is serving a life sentence.
In exchange for Pollard, Israel would agree to release 26 prisoners, among them around 20 Arab Israelis, and the Palestinians would agree to continue talks until the end of 2014, according to Army Radio.
Israel has strong feelings about Pollard, which is understandable, but he is not an Israeli citizen. Israel must consider the security of its own citizens first, as unfair as his treatment may be. We sure as hell know we can’t trust the State Department.