US imposes visa sanctions on extremist Israeli settlers over attacks
AFP || Shining BD
The United States said Tuesday it would refuse visas for extremist Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians, stepping up pressure to curb a wave of violence in the West Bank during the Gaza war.
The measures amount to a rare concrete repercussion by the United States against Israelis in the nearly two-month-old war, in which President Joe Biden has nudged the US ally on protecting civilians but also promised strong support.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States would refuse entry to anyone involved in "undermining peace, security or stability in the West Bank" or who takes actions that "unduly restrict civilians' access to essential services and basic necessities."
"We have 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," Blinken said in a statement.
"As President Biden has repeatedly said, those attacks are unacceptable," Blinken said.
"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."
More than 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank, according to a Palestinian government tally, since Hamas's attack on October 7 sparked a new war with Israel. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, not the West Bank, and Palestinians have complained of impunity over attacks and harassment carried out by settlers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in a coalition with far-right parties that strongly support Jewish settlement of lands seized in 1967, construction that is considered illegal under international law.
Blinken did not publicly identify who would be denied visas. Restrictions on entering the United States will not apply to extremist settlers who are US citizens.