US Visa Ban on Israeli Extremist Settlers

The United States has delivered a strong message to Israel, indicating its intention to impose visa bans on Israeli extremist settlers involved in violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank. A senior State Department official shared this information with Reuters. Here are the key points you need to be aware of:

The Ban

This development stems from Israel’s refusal to effectively address settler violence in the West Bank, despite repeated calls from the United States. President Joe Biden has expressed his firm stance on ending extremist violence against Palestinians, emphasizing that the US is ready to take action, including issuing visa bans. Secretary of State Antony Blinken conveyed a similar message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a recent meeting.

Meaning of ‘Settlements’ in the Context of Israel and Palestine

The state of Israel was established in 1948, following a United Nations resolution that partitioned the former British mandate of Palestine. Over the years, Israel has altered the political map through wars and military actions, occupying significant territory belonging to Palestine. Settlements, established after capturing the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six-Day War, act as a buffer for Israel’s national security, restricting Palestinian movement and undermining the viability of a Palestinian state.

Current Situation

Presently, over 700,000 Jewish settlers, around 10% of Israel’s population, reside in approximately 279 settlements across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Some settlers are motivated by religious reasons, while others are attracted by lower living costs and financial incentives from the Israeli government. Settlements have been marked by violence, and since the October 7 Hamas attack, daily settler attacks on Palestinians have doubled, according to UN figures.

Response from Israel

While an Israeli government spokesman refrained from commenting on the US visa ban, he condemned vigilantism and hooliganism. However, this statement overlooks how Israel’s policies and some government figures actively encourage settler violence. Instances, like the February rampage in Huwara, demonstrate the complicity of certain elements within the Israeli state.

When Will the Ban Take Effect?

The visa bans could be implemented in the next few weeks, marking a significant punitive measure by the Biden administration towards Israel. This action is poised to be the most substantial rebuke of Israel by the United States in years. Domestically, the ban may face opposition, particularly due to close connections between many Israeli settlers and the US. The impact on those with dual citizenship remains uncertain. The enforcement of the visa ban and the identification of settler violence perpetrators pose challenges, especially without support from Israeli authorities.



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