Advocates describe US visa ban on violent Israeli settlers as 'insufficient'
The move, announced Tuesday, 5 December, would mark the first time that a US administration implements individual sanctions on Israeli settlers. It could also mean that Biden worries that Israel is not taking meaningful steps to address the violence by settlers.
"I have been emphatic with Israel's leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable," Biden wrote in a piece that ran in the Washington Post last month.
"The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank," he warned
Though human rights advocates are welcoming the move, some see it as long overdue, given the high level of settler violence over the past year.
"It's too little, too late," Adam Shapiro, director of advocacy for Israel-Palestine at Democracy for the Arab World Now, told The New Arab.
This year has been one of the deadliest for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, with attacks coming from both the military and settlers. According to Save the Children, 2023 marks the deadliest year on record for Palestinian children in the West Bank.
Since Hamas's surprise attack on Israel on 7 October, Israel's right-wing government has ramped up its raids in the West Bank, while settler attacks on West Bank Palestinians have increased significantly.
According to a United Nations report, settler violence incidents have risen from three to seven per day, with 171 recorded settler attacks against Palestinians, resulting in 26 casualties and damage to 115 Palestinian properties.
Anwar Mhajne, assistant professor of political science at Stonehill College, told TNA that applying sanctions on individual settlers alone is "insufficient" to address the ongoing violence in the occupied West Bank sustainably.
"There is a critical need for Biden to exert pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu and tie military aid to a freeze on settlements, specifically targeting areas where settler violence persists under the passive gaze of the military," she said. "This proactive stance is crucial to addressing the root causes of the issue and fostering a more sustainable solution."
In a public statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the US announcement that it would ban violent settlers. However, it also emphasised that it believed more "concrete action" should be taken to address the issue and suggested adding top Israeli government officials to the ban.