Knesset hearing on travel rules for Israelis’ relatives set for Tuesday

Israeli skies are set to close to all foreigners on Sunday at midnight, but A and B visa-holders who live in Israel will be able to enter the country.

Gilad Kariv (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Gilad Kariv
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

A special Knesset hearing to discuss restrictions on relatives of Israeli citizens who wish to enter Israel will take place on Tuesday before the Law and Constitution Committee, committee chairman MK Gilad Kariv announced on Sunday during a session of the committee.

A victory for foreign nationals with strong ties to Israel was achieved later in the day, when the Population and Immigration Authority confirmed that A visa-holders – including students – and B visa-holders who live in the country will be able to continue to enter the country under the new rules.

Kariv had vowed to organize the session to discuss the difficulties encountered by family members of Israelis earlier this month.

Former MK Dov Lipman, founder of the NGO Yad L’Olim that assists immigrants and their families, shared the story of a mother of two young children who just had a stillbirth whose family could not come into the country to assist her.

Yad L’Olim, whose mission includes navigating coronavirus bureaucracy, has been pushing authorities to improve and clarify the regulations on the subject since its establishment earlier this year.

 Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai at the Knesset, November 15, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai at the Knesset, November 15, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The NGO also worked to organize the special hearing, and Lipman was the one who raised the question of visa holders stuck outside the country during Sunday’s session of the committee.

Later in the day, the Population and Immigration Authority changed its policy, and new guidelines were expected to be published on Sunday night but were not available as of press time.

Everyone else who is not a citizen will need to receive authorization on humanitarian grounds from the Government Exception Committee.

However, the procedure to apply, criteria to be eligible, or timeline, have yet to be clarified.

Kariv described the situation as not acceptable, and asked all relevant ministries to provide answers ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, including how the Exception Committee operates and why applicable travel rules are not subjected to Knesset oversight.

“I am happy that I was in a position to raise the voice of olim, their families and global Jewry in the committee hearing,” Lipman said. “I am thankful that the committee chair, MK Gilad Kariv, is taking the issues of a real exceptions committee and visa holders seriously. I hope we get clear and positive answers in the coming days.”

Beginning November 1, a new outline opened the borders for all foreign nationals considered protected against the virus by the criteria of the Health Ministry: inoculated twice within the previous six months, vaccinated with a booster and recovered with one shot, or recovered within the past six months provided with an electronic recovery certificate.