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Congress OKs Watered Down Bill on US-Israel Ties

Wednesday, 03 Dec 2014 08:14 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has passed a bill deepening U.S.-Israeli cooperation after softening a push for Israelis to travel visa-free to the U.S. even as the Jewish state blocks Arab and Muslim Americans from its territory.

It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The legislation approved by a voice vote in the House Wednesday calls for Israel's inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program when it meets the requirements. The most elementary demand is reciprocal treatment for Americans.

Qualifying is a priority for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and has much support among pro-Israel U.S. lawmakers.

But the effort stalled after Obama's administration and influential senators objected to language appearing to accept Israeli discrimination against some Americans. Many Palestinian-Americans and Americans of Arab origin or Muslim faith can't enter Israel because of security rules.

The Senate passed the modified version in September.

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Wednesday, 03 Dec 2014 08:14 PM
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