By Micah HalpernI've Been Thinking:
Yesterday, Congress passed a bill that transforms the relationship between the United States and Israel.
The bill classifies Israel as a "strategic partner." That classification comes with great benefits. Under the bill Israel will receive tremendous security benefits as well as priority on weapons surpluses.
The bill is now off to the Senate where it is expected to pass overwhelmingly and then to the president who is expected to sign it.
The original draft of the legislation had an additional benefit that Israeli citizens were very much hoping to achieve. But in the final version, it was removed.
The clause would have permitted Israelis automatic tourist visas. Israeli citizens would get visas upon arrival in the United States the same way US citizens get them when they enter Israel. It would have streamlined Israelis access to the US, a process that often requires long months of waiting and even denial.
That privileged status may still come - but at a later date and by way of another bill.
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