Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked will meet in Washington with the US Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, to discuss the issue of eliminating the visa requirement for Israelis who travel to the United States.
Mayorkas said recently that the United States is considering adding four countries, including Israel, to its visa waiver program that allows citizens to come to America without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days.
Speaking to Radio 103FM on Sunday, ahead of her meeting with Mayorkas, Shaked said that "for many years now, the issue of visas for Israelis has been getting stuck for a number of reasons, but now there is an opportunity to succeed because the Americans are willing and President Biden talked about it with Prime Minister Bennett."
Asked if Israel is willing to give the US anything in return for being added to the visa waiver program, she replied, "A consulate in exchange for a visa exemption? There is no such deal. The Israeli government will not agree to open an American consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and only of Israel. These two issues are unrelated. I do not want to speak on behalf of the Americans, I do not know if they will agree, but that is our position."
On Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar's bill, which would limit a Prime Minister's term to eight years, Shaked said, "If I were in Israel I would vote in favor. I discussed it with the Minister of Justice and we reached an agreed upon wording. This is part of the coalition agreement and anything that is in the agreement - should be respected. I think that [limiting a Prime Minister] to eight years in a row, this is the right decision."
Asked about the second part of the law, which stipulates that a person with an indictment cannot run for Prime Minister, she replied, "It is not part of the coalition agreement, and the reason it is not part of the coalition agreement is because we opposed it. My opinion is known, we will have to sit and talk. If there is no agreement, the law will not be promoted."
On the decision to delay the bill regulating the “young settlements”, Shaked said, "It can be done through government decisions, we do not have to legislate. Even within this coalition, I hope and believe that we will succeed in bringing about regulation of at least some of the towns and properly connecting them to electricity."
"We have been working on it for many, many years, it is not a one-time process and then we are done. The state is committed to providing them with basic humanitarian conditions of water and electricity. These people are the salt of the earth - young families and charming people who serve in the IDF, volunteer and work hard in all areas, both in the public sector and in the private sector. They should not suffer from the cold in the winter. It is our duty to take care of them," the minister concluded.