newsIsrael at War

Israeli officials blast new Biden admin sanctions over ‘settler violence’

Gush Etzion Regional Council mayor calls the sanctions "another scandalous decision from the chairman of Joe Biden's election campaign."

A Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria herds sheep near his community, Aug. 20, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
A Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria herds sheep near his community, Aug. 20, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

For the second time in as many months, the U.S. State Department, in coordination with the U.S. Treasury, is again issuing financial sanctions against Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. 

According to an official State Department spokesperson “fact sheet,” three Israeli males are “being accused of undermining peace, security, and stability in the West Bank, which undermine the national security and foreign policy objectives of the United States, including the viability of a two-state solution, ensuring Israelis and Palestinians can attain equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom, and reducing the risk of regional destabilization.” 

The sanctions are in pursuant to U.S. President Joe Biden’s Feb. 1 Executive Order 14115, outlined by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, which states that financial sanctions would be applied to individuals in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), who are seen as “undermining stability” and the “prospects of peace.”  

The latest announcement states: “All property and interests in property of the designated persons that are in the United States or in possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).”

The new sanctions also apply to the actual farms owned by two of the three sanctioned men, as the State Department claims the properties are serving as bases from which the accused are  perpetrating “violence against Palestinians.” 

Washington has yet to levy sanctions on any Palestinian Authority Arabs who have carried out acts of violence, despite the EO’s wording, which supposedly can apply to both Israelis and Arabs alike. 

The three men sanctioned include Zvi Bar Yosef, from the Samarian community of Halamish, along with his property, known as “Zvi’s Farm,” located around 22 miles east of Ben Gurion Airport; Moshe Sharvit, whose property known as “Moshe’s Farm,” in north eastern Samaria, was also listed alongside him; and Neriya Ben Pazi, who lives on the Rimonim Farm in the Binyamin region.    

International attorney and U.S. law expert Marc Zell, whose team of attorneys will be challenging Biden’s EO through a civil suit to be filed in U.S. federal court in the upcoming days, told JNS the additional sanctions levied by the Biden administration were “significant.”

“The sanctions represent further implementation of the Feb. 1 EO, which we see was not a one-time affair. It shows the administration is attempting to rachet up the pressure on Israel,” he said. 

“What’s new about this one is that it applies to two communities in their entirety. This means that anybody who is living in these communities in addition to the specific people mentioned will also theoretically (or not theoretically) be subject to potential sanctions in the United States, and could have their bank assets frozen or seized,” he added. 

Gush Etzion Regional Council Mayor and Yesha Council chairman Shlomo Ne’eman blasted the decision, saying he believes the sanctions were a political move by team Biden.

“Another scandalous decision from the chairman of Joe Biden’s election campaign. Instead of punishing the terrorists, the United States punishes the victims. Instead of fighting the roots of Palestinian terrorism, the United States chooses to back terrorists and anarchists who continue to come and attack communities throughout Judea and Samaria,” he said.

“We once again call on the government of Israel, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to put an end to this repulsive phenomenon. It is not possible for Judea and Samaria to become a scapegoat,” said Ne’eman.

Israel Ganz, governor of the Binyamin Regional Council, told JNS, “The Americans are acting against the State of Israel in a bullying manner while giving a reward and a windfall to Hamas.”

Ganz seconded Ne’eman’s call for the Israeli government to take action regarding the matter.

“The Israeli government must not accept this violation of its authority. We demand that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the government ministers apply Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. This should be the Israeli answer to the violation of the sovereignty of the State of Israel, which is also an appropriate answer to Hamas’s ambitions to [ethnically] cleanse us from here and murder us.”

Ganz added, “I expect that the American leadership will protest against the shameful step of the administration which harms freedoms and human rights without trial and without justice while the administration believes fake antisemitic claims.”

He concluded by vouching for those named for sanctioning. 

“I support the residents of Judea and Samaria against whom the sanctions were issued and the places where they live. I personally know several of them, who operate legally, and their contribution to the security of the country and to the continued Israeli hold on the country’s heartland is enormous,” he said.

Likud Knesset member Dan Illouz also condemned the sanctions, which he called “unjust,” adding that Israel’s judiciary was capable of handling an internal matter without outside intervention. 

“I unequivocally condemn the U.S. government’s decision to impose more sanctions on Israeli citizens. This move undermines the integrity of Israel’s robust legal system and disregards our status as a freedom-loving democracy,” Illouz told JNS. “It looks like a desperate attempt to find the middle ground between Israel, a freedom loving country, and the terrorism of Hamas.”

The sanctions “not only misrepresent the truth but also jeopardize the principles of justice and sovereignty,” he added. “Israel’s judiciary is more than capable of addressing internal matters without foreign intervention. We demand respect for our legal processes and call for an immediate reassessment of these unjust sanctions.”

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