Biden To Seek Sanctions Against Israeli Settlers Accused of ‘Attacking’ Palestinians at West Bank

The move comes despite the fact that violence committed by those residents of Judea and Samaria is down precipitously relative to the same time period in the year prior.

AP/Majdi Mohammed
Mourners carry the bodies of three Palestinians draped in the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant group flags during their funeral at the West Bank Friday. AP/Majdi Mohammed

In a bid to blunt criticism from the left for his steadfast support of Israel’s war against Hamas, President Biden is signaling his intention to sanction Israeli settlers accused of harassing Palestinians at the West Bank. The move comes despite the fact that violence committed by those residents of Judea and Samaria is down precipitously relative to the same time period in the year prior. 

On Saturday, President Biden directed administration officials to prepare visa bans and other potential sanctions against Israeli residents accused of “attacking” and “displacing” Palestinians in the West Bank, according to an internal document viewed by Politico.

The memo, delivered to senior aides, including Secretary of State Blinken and Treasury Secretary Yellen, orders the agencies to “develop policy options for expeditious action against those responsible for the conduct of violence in the West Bank.”

The memo comes in the wake of requests from two Democratic lawmakers, Senator Booker of New Jersey and New York Congressman Dan Goldman, urging the administration to curb “vigilante violence by Israeli settlers” which threatens “Israel’s near-term security, Palestinian human rights, and long-term regional peace.”

Between the day that the war began, October 7, and November 7, there were 97 incidents of illegal activities attributed to Jews in Judea and Samaria, down from 184 offenses during the same period in 2022, according to the Jewish News Syndicate. 

The news outlet specified that the decrease cuts across all criminal categories. “Violent clashes (20 compared to 53), ‘popular terrorism’ (47 compared to 103), violent attacks (five compared to 10), assaults on security personnel (four compared to 10), and agricultural vandalism (97 compared to 184),” the group says. 

There have been zero attacks labeled “serious attacks” — ones which usually attract American attention — between October 7th and November 7th this year, compared to three incidents during the same period in 2022. 

According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, there have been approximately 700 terror attacks in the West Bank since October 7. Pockets of lawlessness in Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm have become breeding grounds for Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist groups, the think tank says. The Israeli military has arrested some 1,700 West Bank residents with alleged connections to Hamas in recent weeks. 

After Israel closed down the border between the West Bank and Israel proper, the Biden administration demanded the Jewish state reopen the crossing. The administration stated the maneuver was a violation of a Visa Waiver agreement signed between Israel and the United States that requires free movement of Palestinians, some of whom are American citizens, into and out of Israel. 

“There is a small group of people who do not represent this public, who take the law into their own hands,” Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said of some settlers in the West Bank. “We are not willing to tolerate it, we are not willing to accept it, and we will act against it in every way. It causes significant international damage to the State of Israel and does not represent the public here.”

The move to sanction Israelis would follow similar actions taken against Palestinian terror group leaders and financiers by the United States in coordination with the United Kingdom. On November 14th, the Treasury Department announced new sanctions against key Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad financiers. 

The department stated that Iran had been funneling hundreds of millions of dollars for weapons and operational training and had named, and sanctioned, the individuals whom the department claims are responsible for the operation.

The New York Sun

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