update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden sanctions ‘violent’ Israelis in Judea and Samaria

The U.S. president's executive order targets four Israelis Washington says "directed or participated" in violent actions or threats.

U.S. President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
U.S. President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an executive order that imposes additional sanctions on Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria involved in alleged violence against Palestinians.

Biden’s order targets four Israeli citizens who Washington believes have “directed or participated” in violent actions or threats against Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territory, Axios reported on Thursday, citing officials in Washington.

The outlet added that their assets and bank accounts in America would be frozen, and individuals and companies would be barred from providing assets or services to them through the U.S. financial system.

The State Department and U.S. Treasury are expected to issue details on the sanctions and how financial institutions should approach the issue after the order is released later Thursday, according to Politico.

The administrative order will also make it possible to target leaders or government officials claimed to be “directing, enacting, implementing and enforcing or failing to enforce policies that threaten the peace, security and stability” in Judea and Samaria, officials in Washington said.

While the Biden administration initially considered including Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on the list of sanctioned individuals, that plan was eventually shelved, Axios said.

Jerusalem was reportedly notified about the sanctions, which had been in the works for several weeks, on Thursday morning. 

Late last year, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a “visa restriction policy” under which Washington would bar entry into the United States of those accused of undermining “peace, security or stability in the West Bank,” as well as their family members.

“We have underscored to the Israeli government the need to do more to hold accountable extremist settlers who have committed violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank,” Blinken said.

On Dec. 31, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen denounced reports of a growing phenomenon of “settler violence” as a “blood libel” and “a lie disconnected from reality.”

According to Israeli Police figures made public in November, in the period from the current Hamas war’s start on Oct. 7 through Nov. 7, there were 97 incidents of illegal activities attributed to Jews in Judea and Samaria, down from 184 offenses in the same period in 2022.

Between Oct. 7 and Jan. 15, the Hatzalah Judea and Samaria rescue group recorded more than 2,600 terrorist attacks against Israelis in the area, including 760 cases of rock-throwing, 551 fire bombings, 12 attempted or successful stabbings and nine vehicular assaults.

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