Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz
President Joe Biden signed an executive order to sanction ‘settler violence.’

Samaria resident Yinon Levy was notified this weekend that his personal and business accounts in Bank Leumi were frozen in response to sanctions imposed against him by the United States.

Levy was one of four Israeli citizens hit by the sanctions, which so far has targeted only foreign citizens.


Biden Sanctions ‘Violent’ Settlers, Considers Including Ben-Gvir and Smotrich

President Joe Biden involved the International Emergency Economic Powers Acct (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (NEA) and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 in announcing the sanctions against Levy and three other Israelis the US claimed were guilty of “settler violence” against the Palestinian Authority neighbors.

It’s not clear whether the US has ever imposed sanctions against any of the thousands of Palestinian Authority Arabs who carry out daily stone-throwing and other terror attacks against their Israeli neighbors in Judea and Samaria.

It is certain, however, that if such sanctions were ever imposed against citizens of the Palestinian Authority, the moves were never announced with such drumroll and fanfare as those against the four Israeli residents of the territories, meriting not one but three separate announcements Thursday from the White House — the Executive Order from the president, a statement from National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and a “Message to Congress” echoing the Executive Order — in addition to a separate announcement by State Department spokesperson Matt Miller during his daily briefing a short time later.

“I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, find that the situation in the West Bank — in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction — has reached intolerable levels and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region. These actions undermine the foreign policy objectives of the United States, including the viability of a two-state solution and ensuring Israelis and Palestinians can attain equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom. They also undermine the security of Israel and have the potential to lead to broader regional destabilization across the Middle East, threatening United States personnel and interests. For these reasons, these actions constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat,” the president’s Executive Order reads.

It’s worth taking the time to read the entire text of the order. Click here.

The White House basically threw the book at Levy and three other Israelis without bothering to wait for Israel to determine whether their actions merited arrest, trial and conviction.

“President Biden and Secretary Blinken have been clear that the levels of violence we have seen in the West Bank over the past few months are unacceptable. Violence in the West Bank surged to alarming levels in 2023. This includes unprecedented levels of violence by Israeli extremist settlers targeting Palestinians and their property, as well as violence by Palestinian extremist militants against Israeli civilians,” Miller said in opening remarks.

“Earlier today, the President issued a new executive order establishing US authority to impose financial sanctions against foreign persons engaged in actions that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the West Bank. Under the authority granted by that order, the State Department is today imposing financial sanctions on four Israeli nationals for their destabilizing acts in the West Bank.

“Today’s action follows on the step we took in December to impose visa restrictions on dozens of individuals for contributing to violence and instability in the West Bank. There is no justification for extremist violence against civilians, whatever their national origin, ethnicity, or religion.”

Apparently a different standard applies to actions by Palestinian Authority Arabs who try daily to murder Israelis with stone-throwing attacks aimed to kill them as they drive to and from their homes in Judea and Samaria. No such sanctions have been leveled at any of those perpetrators — or if they have, it was done very quietly.

“The President and the Secretary have both raised our concerns with their Israeli and Palestinian counterparts about the level of violence in the West Bank and stressed that Israel must do more to stop violence against civilians and hold accountable those responsible for it. We continue to make clear that expectation to the Government of Israel, and as we do, the United States will also continue to take actions to advance the safety, security, and dignity of Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Miller spoke of “policing violence in the West Bank” but oddly, he wasn’t referring to terror attacks.

“I would say that the first responsibility here for policing destabilizing action, for policing violence in the West Bank, is with the Government of Israel, and the Government of Israel that is on the ground that we have been very clear needs to do more to arrest extremist settlers engaged in violence and prosecute extremist settlers engaged in violence, and that we have made that clear to them.

“We have seen them take some additional steps since we began these interventions, both the Secretary in his trips to the region and the President in his various phone calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu. That’s the first – like, the first line of responsibility is with the Israeli Government, and we continue to hope that they will do more.

“But then we are willing and, as we have shown through our actions both with the visa bans and the actions we take today, committed to taking further actions within our ability to police settler violence, extremist settler violence, and we’ll continue to take additional steps as necessary.”

In response to a follow up question, the spokesperson said there have been some “very frank conversations” between the US and Israel about “extremist settler violence.”

“That includes some very detailed conversations where we have presented cases to the Israeli Government, cases of settler violence that – where we have seen reports, and where we have seen documented settler violence, and asked them to take action. And we have seen them take some action. And so we’ve engaged in a back and forth with them, both at the – at the Secretary’s level and through our embassy.

“What we have seen – and I should say we have seen since those interventions over the past month, six weeks, two months — we have seen the level of extremist settler violence come down somewhat. Not come down enough; we want to see more. But the interventions that we’ve made have, we believe, made a difference. But we want to see it continue to come down, which is why we have taken the actions today,” Miller said.

“With respect to your questions about settlements, we have made clear that we think the expansion of settlements in the West Bank undermine peace, undermine stability, threaten an ultimate – the ultimate establishment of a Palestinian – independent Palestinian state, make it more difficult. And so we will continue to engage with the Israeli Government on that matter as well.”

The US is leaning hard on the State of Israel to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian Authority state, despite the obvious suicidal ramifications for Israel. That pressure includes years of pressure over so-called “expansion of settlements.”

To be clear: this term does not refer to widening of municipal boundaries of existing Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

“Settlement expansion” refers to any action whatsoever that involves construction within the municipal boundaries of an Israeli community in Judea and Samaria, from something as small as issuing a permit for construction of an additional room or driveway or even a pergola on a privately-owned home, up to and including something as significant as building a new school, library, community center, day care or even a neighborhood within the community’s municipal boundaries. This means that growing families cannot expand their homes with a bedroom, young people who get married cannot stay near their families in the community because no additional housing is available.

All this, while Palestinian Authority Arabs are building — illegally — at will even in Area C, the sections of Judea and Samaria that according to the internationally-recognized Oslo II Accords of 1995 are supposed to be under the sole administrative and security control of the State of Israel.

“Part of that message is not just to the Government of Israel, but also to people who – themselves who might be considering engaging in acts of violence, to let them know that the United States Government is watching and will take action,” Miller said towards the end of the briefing.

“And I also think you should not conclude that we are done with our action through our actions today.

“The executive order was just promulgated today, gives the State Department and the Treasury Department new sanctions authorities that we did not previously have. We will not hesitate to use those sanctions authorities if it’s appropriate to do so.”


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