More Israelis will be able to go to Australia to visit or work, after a new agreement between the two countries was signed Wednesday. Israel's ambassador in Australia signed the deal with government officials there to allow up to 500 Israelis to enter the country annually on work/tourism visas. The visas will be granted to individuals 18-30 without children. A similar number of Australians will be able to enter Israel annually under the same type of visa.
Australia's laws on who can enter the country are among the toughest in the world, as the government has sought to ensure that the country is not overly inundated with illegal immigrants. It's also a favorite location for Israelis taking a year off after the army, and many who would like to visit are unable to because they cannot get the longer-term visa required for that kind of trip.
Australians have also been loathe to allow more Israelis into the country because of the proliferation of mall kiosks where young Israelis sell Dead Sea products, mobile phone cases, and the like. In addition, the Australian government has been much tougher on Israeli visitors since the the report several years ago that Ben Zygier, allegedly an Israeli Mossad agent, died under “suspicious circumstances” after allegedly providing Australian officials, as well as others - possibly Iran - with information about Mossad operations. Zygier, a dual citizen of Australia and Israel, committed suicide in an Israeli prison after his arrest for espionage-related charges that have never been fully revealed.
Zygier was held in a high-security prison under an alias. Despite near-constant supervision, he managed to kill himself in late 2010. The affair was not revealed until 2013, and aroused considerable controversy when it went public.
There have been various rumors about Zygier’s alleged crimes. Among other things, the former Mossad agent is said to have revealed information to Australia’s security services, to have leaked sensitive information to Hezbollah, to have unwittingly sabotaged a top-secret mission, and to have threatened to go public with Israel’s use of foreign passports for Mossad agents.