1st December 2023 – (Washington) The Biden administration has informed Israel that it intends to impose visa bans on Israeli extremist settlers involved in violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, according to a senior State Department official. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken conveyed this message during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet, stating that the United States will take action against a yet undisclosed number of individuals.
The West Bank, one of the territories where Palestinians aspire to establish their own state, has witnessed a surge in violence in recent months. This escalation can be attributed to the expansion of Jewish settlements and the longstanding impasse in US-sponsored peace negotiations, which has persisted for nearly a decade.
This year has seen the level of violence reach its highest point in over 15 years, with further escalation following Israel’s recent military operations in the separate enclave of Gaza. These operations were launched in response to the deadliest day in Israel’s history, which occurred on October 7 when the Palestinian militant group Hamas unleashed a series of attacks.
In response to the news, Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy declined to comment on the matter but emphasized Israel’s condemnation of any vigilantism, hooliganism, or attempts by individuals to take the law into their own hands.
The United States has repeatedly expressed concerns about the rising violence in the West Bank and called for it to cease. In a Washington Post opinion piece published on November 18, US President Joe Biden threatened to take action against those responsible for extremist violence.
“I have made it clear to Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those engaging in such violence must be held accountable. The United States is prepared to take measures of our own, including issuing visa bans against extremists who attack civilians in the West Bank,” Biden wrote.
The State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, stated that Washington expects Israel to prosecute those responsible for the violence but has yet to witness any such action. The visa bans could be implemented in the coming weeks, the official added.