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US sanctions settlers in the West Bank

The US government is putting pressure on extremist settlers in the West Bank. Four Israelis accused of violence against Palestinians have now been sanctioned. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sees “no reason” for this.

The US government has imposed sanctions on four Israeli settlers accused of taking part in violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. The US Treasury Department released the names of four men who are also accused of intimidation and destruction of property.

A government official in Washington emphasized that US President Joe Biden has repeatedly expressed his concern publicly and in almost every diplomatic conversation with the Israeli government about the increase in violence by extremists. These actions pose a serious threat to peace and security stability in the West Bank, Israel and the Middle East.

Netanyahu: Majority of settlers are “law-abiding citizens”

As a result of the sanctions, possible assets of those affected in the USA will, among other things, be blocked. US citizens or persons located in the United States are prohibited from doing business with those sanctioned. The measures are “not discriminatory and apply to Israelis and Palestinians as well as foreigners,” emphasized the US government representative. The Israeli government has already been informed about this.

At the beginning of December, the US government had already imposed entry restrictions in response to the growing tensions in the West Bank, which were aimed, among other things, at extremist Israeli settlers.

Israel criticized the US decision. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said there was “no reason” for sanctions. “Israel will take appropriate action against anyone who breaks the law anywhere,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying by Israeli media. However, the “absolute majority” of West Bank settlers are “law-abiding citizens,” many of whom serve in the armed forces to defend Israel.

Sharp increase in violence since October 7th

Since the terrorist attack by the militant Islamist Hamas and other extremist groups in southern Israel on October 7, tensions and conflicts in the Israeli-occupied West Bank have also increased. Palestinians complain about increased violence by Israeli settlers against their villages and olive groves.

The Israeli military is increasingly taking action against suspected militants in Palestinian cities. According to the UN emergency agency OCHA, 370 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank including East Jerusalem between October 7, 2023 and January 31, 2024, 360 of them by Israeli soldiers and at least eight by Israeli settlers. Six Israelis were killed during the same period. In 2023, OCHA documented more deaths in the area than ever since counting began in 2005.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel conquered, among other things, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Today around 600,000 Israelis live there in more than 200 settlements. In 2016, the UN Security Council called these settlements a violation of international law and called on Israel to stop all settlement activity. The Palestinians claim the areas as part of their own state.

Ralf Borchard, ARD Washington, tagesschau, February 1st, 2024 7:00 p.m

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