Biden’s Executive Order Targets Israeli Settlers in West Bank for First Time

WASHINGTON – President Biden issued an executive order targeting Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have been conducting violent attacks against Palestinians in the occupied territory. The order is a response to a surge in violent assaults since Hamas initiated an attack on Israel three months ago, resulting in a full-scale war in Gaza.

The executive order specifically named four individuals and is intended to lay the groundwork for imposing financial sanctions on settlers who carry out violent assaults. While the order will not target U.S. citizens, it marks the first time the U.S. has threatened frozen assets and bank accounts as a means to address settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank – a critical aspect of a future Palestinian state.

According to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, the violence poses a serious threat to peace, security, and stability in the West Bank, Israel, and the wider Middle East region. The United Nations reported nearly 500 attacks by settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank, which is predominantly under Israeli military occupation, since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

The announcement of the executive order was met with a response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stated that Israel acts against all those who break the law and dismissed the need for exceptional measures in that regard. On the other hand, Israeli expert Dror Etkes welcomed the news, highlighting that the individuals targeted in the order have been involved in severe violent attacks against Palestinians.

The order also drew attention from Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who referred to the “settler violence campaign” as an anti-Semitic lie spread by Israel’s enemies to discredit pioneer settlers. This response underscores the ongoing complexity and controversy surrounding the issue of settler violence and its portrayal within different factions of Israeli society.

President Biden’s executive order represents a significant step in addressing the continual violence and instability faced by Palestinians in the West Bank. However, it also serves as a reminder of the deep-seated tensions and conflicting perspectives in the region, which continue to shape the dynamics of Israeli-Palestinian relations.