President Joe Biden took action on Thursday that marks the first break from Israel during his administration.
Axios reported that he signed an executive order that will allow the federal government to impose sanctions on Israeli settlers in the West Bank who are involved in violence committed against Palestinians.
The executive order could also be used to impose sanctions on government officials and other politicians in Israel.
The “unprecedented executive order” marks “the most significant step” that any White House administration has ever taken to address violence that Israeli settlers have committed against Palestinians in the West Bank.
The humanitarian office of the United Nations, known as OCHA, has reported that almost 500 attacks have been carried out that targeted Palestinians by Israeli settlers since the terrorist organization Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.
On Wednesday, OCHA officials said that at least eight Palestinian civilians were killed in those attacks, one of whom was a child. More than 115 people were also injured in those attacks.
Members of the government in Israel have said that they have taken significant actions in the last few months to address this problem. They’ve also said that their actions have led to a decrease in how many violent attacks have occurred in the West Bank.
Yet, the White House has continually raised the issue of violence committed by Israeli settlers multiple times in the last three years — which have taken place with multiple forms of the Israeli government.
Biden addressed the issue both in public and in private with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after settler violence escalated to new heights following Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel in October. It’s also been a focal point of talks between senior U.S. officials and their counterparts during recent meetings.
In November, Biden ordered the Treasury and State departments to start preparing possible sanctions against any Israeli entity or individual who takes part in attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.
Just a few weeks after that announcement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken put multiple bans in place on Israeli settlers who were believed to have been involved in such attacks. Those sanctions bar them from traveling to America.
The latest executive order issued by Biden this week put sanctions on four Israeli settlers — David Chai Chasdai, Einan Tanjil, Shalom Zicherman and Yinon Levi.
In addition to being banned from coming to the U.S., the settlers’ bank accounts and assets in the U.S. are to be frozen. They also won’t be allowed to transfer or receive money — or trade any goods — through the American financial system.
Administration officials will also be allowed to impose additional sanctions through this executive order if they participate in any threats or acts of violence against civilians, if they seize or destroy property, or if they intimidate Palestinians to leave their homes.
Government officials and other leaders in Israel could also face sanctions if they’re proven to be either indirectly or directly involved in such violence or intimidation against Palestinians.