WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Biden issued an executive order targeting Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have been involved in violent attacks against Palestinians. The order aims to lay the groundwork for financial sanctions against those responsible for the assaults, which have escalated since the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
While the order only named four individuals, it represents the first time the U.S. has taken action against Israeli settlers, using the threat of frozen assets and bank account sanctions to address the ongoing attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank. The Biden administration had previously imposed travel bans on Israeli settlers who had carried out similar attacks late last year.
The violence in the West Bank, largely under Israeli military occupation, poses a significant threat to peace, security, and stability in the region, according to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan. The United Nations has reported nearly 500 attacks by settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. These attacks have resulted in casualties and extensive damage to property, as confirmed by Palestinian authorities and human rights groups.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the executive order, emphasizing that Israel takes action against all individuals who break the law. Meanwhile, Israeli expert Dror Etkes welcomed the news, noting that the American administration’s decision to sanction the individuals involved in violent attacks against Palestinians reflects the shortcomings of Israel’s law enforcement system in addressing such behavior.
Additionally, the announcement drew a response from Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who dismissed the notion of a ‘settler violence campaign’ as an anti-Semitic lie aimed at discrediting Israeli settlers. Despite the differing perspectives, the executive order marks a significant step in addressing the ongoing violence in the West Bank and signifies the U.S. administration’s willingness to take a stance on the issue.