Israel’s Shin Bet security service expresses reservations about UAE visa waiver programme
Israel's internal security service, the Shin Bet, has expressed reservations over a visa waiver agreement which allows UAE citizens to enter Israel without prior approval, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Wednesday.
The UAE signed the waiver deal with Israel on Tuesday which allows citizens of both countries to visit the other without a visa.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth however, Shin Bet believes that the visa waiver will allow Emiratis to enter Israel without it being vetted.
The security force argues that it would be unable to gather adequate information about the identities or histories of anyone suspected of being hostile to Israel from entering the country.
These means the Emiratis would have to be stopped from entering the country after they had boarded a plane to Israel and landed at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Yedioth Ahronoth explained that the Shin Bet could deport Emiratis arriving in Israel if they were on a list of suspects, despite the waiver programme.
Shin Bet officers regularly interrogate visitors to Israel from Arab countries at Ben-Gurion Airport, as well as citizens of European and North American countries of Iranian and Arab origin.
Human rights organisations and the media have previously noted that persons of Arab origin are searched and questioned in a humiliating way at the Israeli airport.
The United Arab Emirates, which announced that it was normalising relations with Israel last August, is the first Arab country to sign a waiver agreement with Israel.
Critics of the agreement have pointed out that the agreement allows Emiratis to visit Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, while Palestinians cannot even travel freely inside the occupied West Bank or visit the towns and villages they and their families were displaced from in 1948.