In a significant move aimed at addressing the escalating conflict between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank, President Joe Biden has issued an executive order imposing sanctions on those involved in acts of violence and intimidation.
The executive order comes in response to the mounting frustration in Washington over Israel’s actions in the West Bank and its impact on the prospects for peace in the region.
Biden’s executive order targets Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have been involved in attacks against Palestinians.
“[H]igh levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction — has reached intolerable levels and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region,” wrote Biden in his order. “These actions undermine the foreign policy objectives of the United States, including the viability of a two-state solution.”
The initial sanctions include financial penalties and visa bans on four individuals, with the possibility of additional punishments for others implicated in acts of violence.
The settlements’ residents are mostly Orthodox Jewish Israelis who have long been accused of using violence to drive Palestinians out of territories captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.
The settlers have received significant political support from right-wing Israeli politicians, most notably Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s Minister of National Security in the current Netanyahu government.
It was unclear whether Ben-Gvir or other high-ranking Israeli officials would face sanctions.
Almost immediately after the executive order, the Department of State announced that it would impose sanctions on four Israeli citizens under the new authority.
“Israel must do more to stop violence against civilians in the West Bank and hold accountable those responsible for it,” wrote the Department in its announcement. The United States considers Israel an ally.
“The absolute majority of the settlers in Judea and Samaria are law-abiding citizens, many of whom are currently fighting regularly and in the reserves for the defense of Israel,” wrote the Israeli Prime Minister’s office to the Daily Caller News Foundation regarding Biden’s order. “There is no room for exceptional measures in this regard.”