Congress approved legislation Wednesday deepening U.S.-Israeli cooperation after softening a push to grant Israelis visa-free travel rights to the United States even as Israel persists in blocking some Arab and Muslim Americans from its territory.
The bill, passed by a voice vote in the House, now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. It cleared the Senate with unanimous support in September, but only after the elimination of language that critics saw as an endorsement of Israeli discrimination of some Americans. The bill now calls only for Israel’s inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program when it meets the requirements, the most elementary of which is reciprocal treatment for Americans.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who spearheaded the effort, hailed Congress’ two houses for speaking “with one voice” to strengthen ties between America and its closest Middle East ally. […]