US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro says Israelis are welcome in the United States, and plans to make the visa process easier to prove that statement.

Shapiro made the comments via Facebook, writing, “Although two-thirds of young Israeli applicants receive visas, some people have a misconception that young Israelis are not welcome in the United States.”

He added: “This is certainly not the case. Israel is one of our closest allies, and we welcome all opportunities to foster ties between Israelis and Americans, including visits to the United States.”

The ambassador said he wants to see Israel added to the visa waiver program, a system that allows citizens of a select number of nations easier entry to the US. If included, Israelis would not have to apply for a tourist visa, but could come to the states for up to 90 days gratis.

Certain roadblocks have come up over time that have precluded the Jewish state from joining the program, like allegations that Israel discriminates against Arabs and a problem of young Israelis entering the US as tourists and then working illegally.

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