Wed 21 Feb 2024 8:29 pm - Jerusalem Time

Washington is preparing to issue new sanctions on settlers in the West Bank

The US administration is preparing to issue a second batch of sanctions on Israeli settlers who carried out violent acts in the West Bank, according to Hebrew media.

The Times of Israel, citing informed American officials, said that new American sanctions against settlers will be issued within the next few weeks.

According to the same source, many Israeli extremists will be targeted with sanctions, joining the four to whom Washington imposed sanctions in the first batch.

At the beginning of this February, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order imposing sanctions on 4 settlers involved in acts of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

This paved the way for unprecedented sanctions on the grounds that settler violence threatens regional security as well as American interests, according to the Israeli newspaper.

The newspaper, quoting the same sources, said that the expected second batch of sanctions indicates that Washington intends to escalate its pressure on Israel to address this phenomenon (settler violence), which continued in the weeks after Biden signed the executive order without Tel Aviv carrying out any arrests against the settlers.

It considered that the new sanctions would be “further evidence of the United States’ lack of confidence in Israeli law enforcement authorities, which rarely succeed in prosecuting Israeli suspects while Palestinians are convicted of committing attacks against Israelis at much higher rates.”

The sources said that prominent Israeli extremists are likely to be punished in the second batch, although government officials will not be targeted yet.

A senior US official told the newspaper that the Biden administration in the first batch of sanctions seriously considered including far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who has a long history of inflammatory comments and was also convicted on several terrorism-related charges before entering politics.

The same official added that far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is not subject to sanctions, even though Washington considered rejecting his application for a visa to enter the United States last year.

The two American officials told the newspaper that the Biden administration is also considering canceling the so-called “Pompeo Doctrine,” which considers settlements “not in themselves inconsistent with international law.”

A policy followed in 2019 by then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a memorandum submitted by the Legal Advisor of the State Department, Herbert Hansell, in 1978, which considered the settlements “legal.”


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Washington is preparing to issue new sanctions on settlers in the West Bank