Photo Credit: Chaim Goldberg / Flash 90
A Jewish shepherd herds sheep near his community in Judea and Samaria, Aug. 20, 2023.

The Honenu civil rights organization has announced it has hired Attorney Meir Avraham from the law firm of Dr. Y. Weinroth & Co. to defend Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria who were sanctioned this month by the United States, Britain and France over unconfirmed allegations of “violence” against their Palestinian Authority neighbors.

This week France joined the United States and Britain in imposing sanctions against so-called “extremist Israeli settlers” the Western nations claim are “guilty of violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.”


France Joins Harassment Campaign Against Israelis in Judea and Samaria

“Our appeal to the inspector is the first action within the framework of the legal procedures we intend to take, if the cardinal damage we pointed out is not corrected,” Dr. Yechiel Weinroth, Meir Avraham and David Weigel wrote in a letter to Danny Khachiashvili, supervisor of Israeli banks, demanding release of the freeze they imposed on the targeted Israelis’ accounts.

The lawyers point out in their letter that in a similar case where the banks were required to take steps towards customers following the war in Ukraine, the inspector at the time, Yair Avidan, issued a letter to the banks in which he sought to balance the demand to block the bank accounts and the rights of the customers — an action not taken in the case of the sanctioned Israelis in Judea and Samaria.

“Following the start of the war against Ukraine sanctions were imposed on the Russian government. As a result of those sanctions, the banks’ customers, new immigrants, were blocked from receiving funds in their accounts from Russian bank accounts,” the attorneys noted.

“Against this background, the inspector at the time, Yair Avidan, found it appropriate to send the banks a letter of clarification in which he demanded that they balance these two: ‘Risk management in view of the significant exposure to violation or circumvention of the international sanctions regimes and, on the other hand, the obligation to provide service to customers.’ In another letter, the supervisor made it clear to the banks that they must act “with high sensitivity”, as he put it.

“Unfortunately, this was not done in relation to our clients, whose accounts were frozen without a word, in a sweeping manner and with zero exceptions. The Postal Bank blocked the account of the Hesdai couple; Bank Leumi blocked the account of the Levy couple; Bank Hapoalim limited the The accounts of the Zicherman couple and of Mr. Tanjil; and Bank Yahav reduced Ms. Levy’s private account in every possible way, even though no sanction was imposed on her and her only “sin” is that she is Mr. Levy’s wife.”

The lawyers pointed out that in the Executive Order signed by US President Joe Biden imposing the sanctions that led to the banks’ actions, there was no statement claiming the individuals had indeed harmed Palestinian Authority Arabs.

“A review of the American order shows that it came into existence on the basis of very general claims, which were not backed up by a shred of evidence against our clients, alleging the ‘high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages and destruction of property’ which ‘has reached intolerable levels and is a serious threat to the peace, security and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel and the wider Middle East region’.

“These general claims, which were never proved, were examined at the beginning of the fair legal procedure that grants the right of argument to the victim. They were the basis for the severe personal sanctions imposed on our clients by the order.”

At the end of their letter, the lawyers turn to the supervisor of banks with the demand that he order the banks to remove the restrictions they imposed on the Israelis’ bank accounts.

“We ask you to order the banking corporations to immediately remove any restriction and/or blocking of any kind from the bank accounts of the spouses of the individuals named in the American order, whose applicability in no way can extend to them”.

Attorney Avraham noted that “unfortunately, the Bank of Israel supported the blocking actions carried out by the banks, and this without the slightest reservation and even though the private accounts of the spouses of those against whom the order was directed were also blocked.

“In the urgent appeal to the supervisor of banks, we made it clear that these are actions that violate the law and the ruling and most absurdly, even the directives of the banking supervision system itself.

“If that is not enough, the court also recently came back and stated that the refusal of the banks to exercise discretion as to the ways in which the customer’s account can be continued to be managed without being exposed to sanctions – is intolerable. Our appeal to the inspector is the first action within the framework of the legal procedures we intend to take, as long as the cardinal damage we pointed out is not corrected.”

Honenu CEO Shmuel (Zangi) Mided, added that the organization will continue to stand by the sanctioned Israelis and provide them with “the best legal assistance” in the face of “these draconian and antisemitic orders.

“We expect the Israeli government to make it clear to those known as ‘our friends overseas’ that it will not allow this injustice to take place.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.