Biden imposes sanctions over "intolerable" Israeli settler violence

Washington, DC - The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on four Israeli settlers as President Joe Biden said violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank had reached intolerable levels.

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on four Israeli settlers as President Joe Biden said violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank had reached intolerable levels.
The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on four Israeli settlers as President Joe Biden said violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank had reached intolerable levels.  © Collage: RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP & SEAN RAYFORD/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

The sanctions marked a rare move by the United States against Israelis as war rages with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and came as Biden traveled to Michigan, whose sizable Arab American community has voiced anger over his unflinching support for Israel.

Biden issued an executive order laying out the groundwork for US measures in response to attacks and "acts of terrorism" in the West Bank, where settlers have allegedly rampaged against Palestinians amid the separate military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

"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 and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security and stability," Biden said in the order.

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The State Department later announced sanctions against four settlers. Any assets they hold in the United States will be blocked, with Americans forbidden from financial transactions with them.

The four settlers include David Chai Chasdai from the flashpoint town of Huwara who is accused of leading a riot that led to the death of a Palestinian civilian.

Other targets included Yinon Levi, who is accused of leading a group of settlers from the unauthorized outpost of Meitarim Farm where settlers allegedly assaulted Palestinian and Bedouin civilians, burned their fields, and destroyed their property.

"Israel must do more to stop violence against civilians in the West Bank and hold accountable those responsible for it," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has repeatedly raised the issue of settler violence with Israel and leaves shortly on a new trip to the region.

Blinken warned against actions that jeopardize the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, an idea that is strongly opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government which includes settler advocates.

Israel criticized the sanctions by its close ally.

"Israel acts against all lawbreakers everywhere, so there is no room for exceptional measures in this regard," said a statement by Netanyahu's office.

The Biden administration is also renewing calls for the creation of a Palestinian state, an idea strongly opposed by Netanyahu's government.

Cover photo: Collage: RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP & SEAN RAYFORD/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

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