The top publications in Israel, including front page articles in The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom, focused on the importance of Congressman Brad Sherman's Visa Waiver for Israel Act. The two most popular television stations in Israel, Channel 2 and Channel 10, broadcasted coverage of a January 15, 2013, press conference on the bill to a national audience.
"The prominent press coverage of this bill reflects a strong desire among Israelis to deepen their travel, business, and cultural ties with America," said Sherman. "Israelis would like to invest much more in our economy and tourism sector. With increased cooperation and jobs in biotechnology, information technology, and green energy research and development, adding Israel to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program will help boost our economy."
The Visa Waiver Program allows travelers from 37 countries -- but currently not Israel -- to enter the United States for business or leisure as visitors for up to 90 days without first getting a visa. Today, Israelis must obtain a visa from the U.S. Embassy before traveling to the United States, often a time-consuming process that could take up to four months. Conferences and meetings in the U.S. are made difficult for Israeli businessmen, scientists, and other travelers.
On Tuesday, January 15, 2013, Sherman introduced the Visa Waiver for Israel Act with 50 co-sponsors, including lead co-sponsor Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX). The bill would pave the way for Israel's entrance into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is introducing the same bill in the Senate. The bill is identical to the one Sherman introduced last year, which under House rules needed to be reintroduced in 2013.
The Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, Daniel Ayalon, expressed strong support for Sherman's bill:
"The proposed waiving of the visa requirement for Israeli tourists visiting America is a true reflection of the special, deep and mutually advantageous relations between Israel and the U.S. and between the Israeli and American peoples, and reports of the legislative initiative were received with great warmth in Israel. I strongly commend Congressmen Brad Sherman and Ted Poe for all their efforts and also the many representatives that have co-sponsored the Visa Waiver for Israel Act."