Middle east

From Settlements to Settlers in the West Bank: How Will Washington’s Sanctions Impact?

As Washington ramps up pressure on Netanyahu‘s government, the Biden administration plans to take an unprecedented step that could raise Tel Aviv’s ire.

According to Axios, citing three U.S. officials, the administration of President Joe Biden is expected to impose new sanctions today, Thursday, against two illegal settlement sites in the occupied West Bank used as bases for extremist settler attacks on Palestinian civilians.

A U.S. official said the forthcoming second round of sanctions would also include three settlers.

This will be the first time that American sanctions are imposed on settlement sites as a whole, rather than just individuals.

This move comes as the Biden administration intensifies pressure on the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over a range of issues, including settler violence against Palestinians and the war in Gaza, particularly the threat of an invasion of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Nearly 500 attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians occurred between October 7 and January 31, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

How Will the Sanctions Impact?

The sanctions will freeze the assets of the three settlers previously targeted by sanctions and the two settlement outposts registered in the United States.

Under the sanctions, the three settlers will also be denied visas to enter the United States and the use of the U.S. financial system.

In February, Biden signed an executive order allowing the United States to impose new sanctions on Israeli settlers – perhaps politicians and government officials – involved in violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.

The unprecedented executive order was the most significant measure taken by any U.S. administration in response to acts of violence.

The first round of sanctions under the new executive order targeted four Israeli settlers that the United States said were directly involved in attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank and systematic acts resulting in the forced displacement of Palestinian communities.

Since then, the UK, France, and Canada have announced similar sanctions.

Three Israeli banks have announced they will suspend bank accounts of settlers in compliance with the new sanctions.

Israeli Finance Minister, the nationalist Tzachi Hanegbi, urged Israeli banks not to enforce the new American sanctions and asked the Ministry of Finance to find ways to circumvent them.

Under pressure from the settler lobby, Netanyahu protested against this.

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