Biden Signs Executive Order To Sanction Israeli Settlers In The West Bank

Reuters/Miriam Alster

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Arjun Singh Contributor
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President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday imposing sanctions on foreign nationals who are residing in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and have allegedly committed violence against Palestinians.

Democrats in the United States have been broadly critical of the Israeli government, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for supporting the construction of settlements in the West Bank, which was deemed illegal under international law by the United Nations Security Council in 1979. Biden’s executive order imposes a broad swath of sanctions on any person who resides in such a settlement and have committed violence against Palestinians resisting their presence, by seizing their U.S.-based property and banning them from entry into the country. (RELATED: Kamala Harris Reportedly Pushing Biden To Be More Sympathetic To 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 executive order restricts persons who reside in the settlements and have committed one of four actions — i.e., threats or acts of violence against Palestinians, property destruction or seizure — from having property interests in the United States, receiving payment from any United States person and from traveling to the United States and/or obtaining any immigration benefit. It also imposes secondary sanctions on any foreign businesses that might aid such persons.

Residents of the settlements are mostly Israeli citizens of the Orthodox Jewish faith and have long been accused of committing violence to displace Palestinians from territories that the country captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. The settlers have received significant political support from right-wing Israeli political elements, notably Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is Israel’s Minister of National Security in the current Netanyahu-led government.

It was not immediately clear if Ben-Gvir and high-ranking Israeli government members will be the subject of the sanctions. Almost immediately after the executive order, the Department of State announced that it was imposing sanctions on four Israeli citizens pursuant to 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.

Israel suffered a coordinated series of terrorist attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7 that were launched from Gaza, a Palestinian enclave. The United States has supported Israel’s military response to the attack, which has been widely criticized by left-wing elements in the country, who accuse Israel of “genocide” and blame Biden for aiding and abetting such alleged action.

“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.”

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