Israelis will now face visa bans declares U.S.
The Biden administration has informed Israel that the United States will impose visa bans on Israeli extremist settlers engaged in violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank in the coming weeks, according to a senior State Department official. During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken conveyed that the U.S. will take action against an undisclosed number of individuals.
The West Bank, a key territory in Palestinian statehood aspirations, has witnessed a surge in violence due to expanding Jewish settlements and a longstanding impasse in U.S.-sponsored peacemaking. This violence, reaching a more-than-15-year high this year, escalated further after Israel entered a conflict in Gaza in response to the deadliest day in Israel’s history caused by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7.
In response, Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy stated no comment on the matter but emphasized Israel’s condemnation of vigilantism or attempts by individuals to take the law into their own hands.
A history of concerns
The U.S. has expressed concern over the increasing violence in the West Bank, with President Joe Biden warning in a Nov. 18 Washington Post opinion piece that the U.S. is prepared to take action, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians. The State Department official, speaking anonymously, mentioned that Washington expects Israel to prosecute perpetrators but has not witnessed such steps yet. The visa bans could be implemented in the next few weeks, according to the official.
The Israeli official suggests that the announcement will likely only specify the number of settlers banned from the U.S. rather than their names, aiming for anonymity as a deterrent against potential attacks on Palestinians. The visa ban might be enforced as early as next week, according to the Israeli official.
In a press conference, Blinken stated, “We’re looking to the Israeli government to take additional steps to put a stop to this. And at the same time, we’re considering our own steps.” France’s foreign ministry spokesperson suggested that the European Union should also consider imposing sanctions on violent Israeli settlers in the West Bank.