“The United States has consistently opposed actions that undermine stability in the West Bank,” the announcement reads, “including attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, and Palestinian attacks against Israelis.”
However, the order goes on to specifically address Jewish Israelis who have settled in the West Bank, saying that the administration has addressed the issue with the Israeli government. The US, Blinken said, has “underscored to the Israeli government the need to do more to hold accountable extremist settlers who have committed violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.”
“As President Biden has repeatedly said, those attacks are unacceptable,” Blinken said. The BBC reports that there has been an increase in violence between Israelis and Palestinians since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.
“Palestinians have said consistently that since the war in Gaza started on 7 October, Jewish settlers are better armed and much more aggressive,” the BBC reports. “Violent attacks, including fatal shootings of Palestinians by armed Jewish settlers in the West Bank have risen sharply.”
As such, the “State Department is implementing a new visa restriction policy targeting individuals believed to have been involved in undermining peace, security, or stability in the West Bank, including through committing acts of violence or taking other actions that unduly restrict civilians’ access to essential services and basic necessities,” Blinken said.
Further, “Immediate family members of such persons also may be subject to these restrictions,” he said. “We will continue to seek accountability for all acts of violence against civilians in the West Bank, regardless of the perpetrator or the victim.”
The move is intended to force the Israeli government, which is waging a war against Hamas in Gaza and fending off attacks from Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, to “take additional measures to protect Palestinian civilians from extremist attacks.”
“We will also continue to engage the Palestinian Authority to make clear it must do more to curb Palestinian attacks against Israelis,” Blinken said. “Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have the responsibility to uphold stability in the West Bank. Instability in the West Bank both harms the Israeli and Palestinian people and threatens Israel’s national security interests. Those responsible for it must be held accountable.”
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