Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, February 25, 2024.

Thursday Bezalel Smotrich beat the Biden administration at its own game.

On March 14, the US Treasury Dept. announced new sanctions against two Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria that the administration accused of being used as a base for attacks on innocent PA Arabs. The Treasury Dept. also sanctioned three Israeli settlers: Moshe Sharvit, Zvi Bar Yosef, and Neriya Ben Pazi.


They followed earlier sanctions against four other Jewish settlers, which Israeli banks promptly blocked from accessing their personal accounts.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced in response, “These decisions are a surrender of the Biden administration to the BDS campaign designed to blacken the entire State of Israel and lead to the elimination of the settlement enterprise and the establishment of a Palestinian terrorist state. The Israeli government is standing to the right of the settlements. These measures are completely unacceptable and we will fight to cancel them.”

In retaliation, Smotrich refused to renew his signature on a document that protects Israeli banks doing business with the Palestinian Authority from lawsuits, namely Discount and Ha’Po’alim.

Without government protection, those Israeli banks would have been forced to sever their ties with the PA banks, fearing that they become exposed to lawsuits on charges of transferring funds to entities that pay out salaries to terrorists.

And since the PA’s economy wholly depends on its relationship with Israel, this meant an immediate freeze of economic activity in the Palestinian Authority.

This week, according to Israel Hayom, the US Treasury Dept. sent an urgent letter to the finance minister, explaining that there is no reason for the banks in Israel to prevent Israeli citizens who appear on the sanctions list from making routine use of their bank accounts.

The treasury official explained that the sanctions do not include routine checking or business account operations, which are permissible and will not result in the administration punishing the Israeli banks that allow Jewish settlers to access their money.

The treasury’s letter essentially kills the entire Biden sanctions attack, because the only real harm to the Jewish victims of those sanctions was from not being able to access their bank accounts in Israel. All the other components of those sanctions, originally designed against Russian tycoons, have nothing to do with the settlers who don’t hold assets that can be frozen in America, and don’t fly there.

Back on March 14, Minister Smotrich stated that “these measures are completely unacceptable,” and vowed, “We will fight to cancel them.”

On the eve of Shabbat, Parshat Tzav, 5784, we declare that he did and they got canceled.


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