Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is currently in Washington, where she is working to promote the waiving of the visa requirement for Israeli citizens visiting the US.
"The US administration shows great willingness to resolve this issue. For over ten years the various Israeli governments have been dealing with the various governments and now there is an opportunity when the Homeland Security Secretary, who I will meet tomorrow, is a person who loves Israel," Shaked says in an interview with Arutz Sheva.
She notes that she worked with the US Secretary of State on this issue during the Obama Administration. "Within the State of Israel, we too have progressed, and removed most of the obstacles. There are now two main obstacles and that is the American desire to have access to our criminal records and the percentage of refusals which needs to be reduced. These are the two main obstacles and I hope that within a year or two we will solve this and we will finally be able to travel to the US without a visa."
On the relationship between the Israeli government and the American government regarding the issues of settlement construction and the opening of a consulate for the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem, Shaked says that there are indeed disagreements between the parties. "We do not have to agree on anything and everything. The Israeli position on the consulate has been clarified to all government officials. The Israeli government will not agree to the opening of a consulate in Jerusalem."
Shaked clarifies that the Israeli position that construction in Judea and Samaria will continue as an integral part of the State of Israel is well known to the US government. "We want to develop these areas. It is true that with a Democratic administration this is a complex issue and there are objections, but in the end the State of Israel must do what is important to it and safeguard its interests."
During her visit to the United States, Minister Shaked met with representatives of the Jewish community in the United States after a long period in which the coronavirus pandemic prevented Israeli government officials from keeping in touch with the community there. "It was a very difficult event and I am glad that now everyone who is vaccinated can come. There is a very big challenge here for the Jewish community to deal with anti-Semitism and BDS. Unfortunately, I have not been here for two years and I see that the BDS movement has strengthened and anti-Semitism has increased. Even within the Jewish community, support for the State of Israel is weakening. It is a very big challenge for the community here and the Israeli government to fight the blood libels and fake news together and strengthen the connection of the Jewish community, especially the liberal part, to the State of Israel."