New Delhi, Feb 2: US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order approving sanctions on four Israeli settlers accused of engaging in attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank. The move comes as a response to the surge in violence in the region, with Biden deeming the situation as having reached “intolerable levels.”
The sanctions, outlined in the broad executive order, prohibit individuals from accessing any US property, assets, and the American financial system. This marks a significant step by the US administration, targeting Israelis with sanctions—a rarity in diplomatic measures.
The spike in violence in the West Bank follows an attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7. Since then, the United Nations reports that 370 Palestinians have lost their lives in the West Bank, with the majority attributed to Israeli forces. However, at least eight of these casualties were reportedly caused by Israeli settlers, according to the UN.
Under the new executive order, the US government now possesses the authority to impose sanctions on any foreign nationals involved in attacking, intimidating, or seizing the property of Palestinians. This move represents an escalation compared to the visa restrictions imposed on some individuals by the US last year.
The significance of this decision is further underscored as President Biden travels to Michigan, a state with a substantial Arab-American population critical of his perceived support for Israel. The Arab American Institute, an advocacy group, notes a sharp decline in Arab American support for the Democratic Party, plummeting from 59% in 2020 to just 17% since the conflict’s inception.
The executive order now lays the groundwork for the US response to future attacks in the West Bank. This marks a shift in policy compared to the visa restrictions imposed in the previous year, signifying a more assertive stance by the Biden administration on the complex Israel-Palestine issue.