In rare Israel rebuke, US restricts visas on extremist settlers

AFP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 6 Dec 2023

The United States said late Tuesday it would refuse visas for extremist Israeli settlers behind a wave of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, as it also asked Israel to do more to spare civilians in Gaza.

Israeli settlers extremists attacking Palestinians. WAFA


The visa measures amount to a rare concrete repercussion by the United States against Israelis in the nearly two-month-old Israeli war on Gaza, in which President Joe Biden has nudged the US ally privately but also promised strong support.

"We have underscored to the Israeli government the need to do more to hold accountable extremist settlers who have committed violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

"As President Biden has repeatedly said, those attacks are unacceptable," he said.

Blinken said the United States would refuse entry to anyone involved in "undermining peace, security or stability in the West Bank" or who takes actions that "unduly restrict civilians' access to essential services and basic necessities."

"Instability in the West Bank both harms the Israeli and Palestinian people and threatens Israel's national security interests. Those responsible for it must be held accountable," Blinken said.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that dozens of settlers, who were not publicly named, would be affected. The visa ban also applies to their immediate family members.

The US decision remains a point of contention as nearly 60,000 Americans reside in these Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Restrictions on entering the United States will not apply to extremist settlers who are US citizens.

All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are considered illegal by the international community, as they contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of population into occupied territories.


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