The White House has announced a new executive order aimed at right-wing Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, where attacks on Palestinians that aim to displace them from their land have reached record highs.
A press release from the White House read, “This (executive order) will allow the United States to issue financial sanctions against those directing or participating in certain actions, including acts or threats of violence against civilians, intimidating civilians to cause them to leave their homes, destroying or seizing property, or engaging in terrorist activity in the West Bank.”
In the executive order, U.S President, Joe Biden announced that the U.S will place sanctions on Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed by security forces and settlers across the occupied West Bank since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, according to the United Nations.
The violence is separate from Israel’s military assault on Gaza, where the death toll is approaching 27,000 Palestinians.
In the notice to Congress, Biden said actions by Israeli settler extremists “constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” and declared a national emergency to address it.
Biden asserted that he finds that the situation in the West Bank, in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction, has reached intolerable levels.
He also stated that it constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region.
“These actions undermine the foreign policy objectives of the United States, including the viability of a two-state solution and ensuring Israelis and Palestinians can attain equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom.
“They also undermine the security of Israel and have the potential to lead to broader regional destabilization across the Middle East, threatening United States personnel and interests.”Joe Biden
In a statement following the announcement of sanctions against Israeli settlers, Jake Sullivan, the U.S National Security Adviser, said the “record” spike in violence by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank “poses a grave threat to peace, security, and stability in the West Bank, Israel, and the Middle East region.”
He said that the executive order allows the U.S to impose financial sanctions against those it deems to have directed or particpated in acts of violence against civilians as well as those who have sought to displace them from their homes, destroyed property or engaged in “terrorist activity” in the West Bank.
“Today’s actions seek to promote peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Sullivan added.
In December, the state department imposed a travel ban on some settlers.
U.S Sanctions Against Israeli Settler Violence Criticized
Meanwhile, Israeli newspaper, Haaretz stated that the move to sanction Israeli settlers was without precedent, calling it “arguably the most punitive measure ever taken from the US government against Israeli citizens.”
Prior to the announcement of the executive order, Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich hit out at the Biden administration following reports that the U.S is considering sanctions against him and fellow ultra-nationalist Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir for promoting violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.
“The ‘settler violence’ campaign is an anti-Semitic lie spread by Israel’s enemies with the aim of discrediting the pioneer settlers and the settlement enterprise and harming them, thereby discrediting the entire State of Israel,” Smotrich said in a social media post.
“This is an anti-moral BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sactions] campaign that turns the victim into the aggressor and permits the blood of the settlers.
It’s a shame that the Biden government cooperates with this in the days when the settlers are paying a dear blood price in the best of their sons in the war in Gaza.”Bezalel Smotrich
Smotrich added that peace will only be achieved once Palestinian aspirations to establish a state “are dashed.”