Cabinet to hear proposal to remove Israel visa exemption

18 May 18

SOUTH AFRICA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Secretary of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba will submit a proposal to the Cabinet to remove the visa exemption for Israeli nationals.

What does the change mean? The proposal comes after South Africa recalled its ambassador in response to the Israeli military opening fire Monday on Palestinian demonstrators.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visa waivers.
  • Who is affected: Israeli nationals traveling to South Africa.
  • Business impact: If current policy is changed, business travelers who rely on the visa exemption may need to apply for a visa or complete other procedures before travel.

Background: Israeli nationals are visa-waived for travel to South Africa for up to 90 days. South Africans, however, must apply for a visa to travel to Israel. South Africa has been reviewing its visa-waiver arrangements and has reimposed visa requirements on countries that do not extend reciprocal visa-waiver treatment to South African citizens.

Current events also triggered the proposal. On Monday, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel after more than 50 Palestinian demonstrators were killed and hundreds wounded by the Israeli military. Gigaba also said he would refer to the Cabinet the issue of South Africans holding dual citizenship and serving in the Israeli military “who fight in wars that South Africa regard[s] as unjust.” The demonstrators on Monday were protesting the controversial U.S. relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

BAL Analysis: The current visa exemption for Israeli nationals remains in place, but the Cabinet review could lead to heightened requirements including the reimposition of visas.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in South Africa. For additional information, please contact africa@balglobal.com.

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