Frustration in Israeli defense establishment: The US does not approve visas (for entry and stay) for military personnel, the intelligence services and the defense industries, so is claimed by Israeli defense sources, following the accumulation of dozen cases of Israeli defense officials which were refused entry into the United States.
The issue was discussed in the last days in closed Israeli security forums. Officials in the Israeli defense establishment cannot explain this phenomenon, however, according to the evidences, during the past year hundreds of officials of the defense industries in Israel did not receive approval to enter the United States or have gotten a visa valid for three months only.
According to additional data collected by the defense establishment, there are currently at least 25 army officers and members of intelligence agencies like the Shin Bet and the Mossad, who were supposed to leave for the United States but did not receive a visa. Furthermore, military officials serving in the United States received a visa for one year only, and as a result there were cases of military personnel whose visa had expired and had to leave to Canada, where they waited for a few weeks until receiving a new visa with great effort.
Defense officials said in closed discussions that they have no explanation for US policy, since despite the difficulty of defense personnel to get a visa, the strategic defense relations between the two countries are continued as usual, and there are many defense officials who did received a permit to enter the United States.
Ironically, some of the defense officials who were denied entry to the United States during the last few weeks were supposed to discuss with American companies on exports from the US to Israel (funded by the military aid money), and defense sources said that if the US does not allow their entry they would cancel planned transactions.
One conjecture which came up by the defense establishment is that the unofficial US policy is designed to make it difficult for the Israeli defense industries, which enjoy collaborating with official state defense agents, in the competition against American industries, or for fear of industrial espionage in the United States.
However, the defense establishment rejected the possibility that this is a “revenge” over the incident in which harsh words against the Secretary of State, John Kerry, were attributed to the Israeli defense minister, since the policy was in effect before these statements were made, and only reached its peak now. “Actually, we have no real explanation for the phenomenon, but the bottom line is that the US is doing everything to make it difficult for Israeli defense personnel to enter the US“, Israeli defense officials say.
US Embassy’s response has not yet been received.