US prepares travel ban on Israeli settlers involved in attacks against Palestinians in West Bank

AP , Friday 1 Dec 2023

The Biden administration is preparing to impose travel bans on extremist Jewish settlers implicated in a rash of attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, a senior U.S. official said Friday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv on November 30, 2023.AFP


Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war Cabinet on Thursday that the administration is looking for Israel to hold settlers accountable for such attacks but would not wait to act itself, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private diplomatic talks.

Visa bans against an as-yet undetermined number of settlers could be announced as early as next week, the official said. The official spoke to reporters accompanying Blinken on his latest trip to the Middle East as he flew from Tel Aviv to Dubai.

President Joe Biden has already raised the possibility of such sanctions but the official’s comments were the first to describe them as possibly imminent.

The official said Blinken’s message to Netanyahu was intended to demonstrate the seriousness with which the U.S. views the surge in settler violence since Oct. 7.

Blinken alluded to the concern at a news conference on Thursday after his meetings in Israel.

“We’re looking to the Israeli government to take some additional steps to really put a stop to this. And at the same time, we’re considering our own steps,” he said.

Earlier this year, the U.S. approved Israel’s application to join the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of member countries visa-free entry into the United States for up to 90 days.

The entry had initially been due to take effect on Thursday but was sped up due to the war.

Settlers affected by the ban would be excluded from the program and would have any current U.S. visa canceled and future applications rejected.

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