United States: The Biden administration followed through with the imposition of economic punitive measures on two Israeli outposts and three settlers whom the US was accused of standing against stability in the occupied West Bank by making a statement on Thursday and then requested the Israeli government to do more to combat settler violence, which the US sees as a major impediment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The State Department stated the settlements, known as Moshe’s and Zvi’s Farm, had been a hub of violence between Palestinians, as reported by Reuters.

The administration-imposed sanctions on four Israeli men whom the administration accused of settler violence in the West Bank when applying the decision, which can be viewed as a serious US displeasure with the policies of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Though Washington clearly stated its growing frustration with the Palestinian civilian toll from the war coming from Israel against Hamas, it had also been asking Israel time and time again to take violent settlers responsible, and it was constantly complaining that such settlement activities made two-state solutions less possible.

Crackdown on Settler Violence

The spokesperson for the State Department, Matt Miller, has stated that the United States will continue to take against persons who are propagating what he has termed as extremist violence and whose actions are likely to endanger peace and security in the West Bank.

“It is critical that Israel take additional action to stop settler violence and hold accountable those responsible for it, not just for the sake of the victims of this violence, but for Israel’s own security and standing in the world,” Miller said in a press briefing.

The sanctions generally restrict the US assets of those targeted and ban Americans from dealing with them, but the way it will affect the outposts has not been made clear yet.

Israeli banks announced in February, in compliance with sanctions, yet the Israeli government was against it. Settlers reported that their bank accounts had been blocked.

Israeli Response and Controversy

Visual Representation – Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. Credit | Flash90

The Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who resides in a settlement of the West Bank, declared on Thursday that the sanctions are a part of a campaign aimed at slandering the entire State of Israel and bringing to down the settlement venture and the inauguration of a Palestinian terrorist state.

Washington also announced its plans to ban visas for such settlers it considers violent radicals.

The government had made a statement back in December that Israeli settlements in the West Bank were a violation of international law, and it showed a step move in the direction of the previous long-standing US policy that had been shifted by the Donald Trump administration.

Background on West Bank Occupation

Since the 1967 war in the Middle East, which Israel was a part of, it has been occupying the West Bank of the Jordan River. Palestinians consider this territory to be the core of their future independent State. Israel has constructed settlements for Jews, and a great part of the settlements did not follow Israeli law.

Israel denies that and refers to the actions based on historical and Biblical connections to land.

The sanctions imposed on Thursday targeted Moshe Sharvit, who the State Department said has “harassed, threatened, and attacked” Palestinian civilians near Moshe’s Farm outpost, which he founded and owned.

According to the statement, the attack was aimed at Zvi Bar Yosef, founder of Zvi’s Farm, and Neriya Ben Pazi, who has evicted Palestinian shepherds from hundreds of acres of land.

Reuters was unable immediately to reach the three for comment.


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