Saturday, March 2, 2024

UK announces sanctions on ‘extremist’ Israeli settlers over West Bank violence

The United Kingdom has put sanctions on four Israeli settlers accused of committing human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank following a similar move by the United States this month.

The sanctions announced on Monday follow what the UK called “unprecedented levels of violence by extremist settlers in the West Bank” over the past year by some residents of illegal Israeli settlements and outposts there.

The sanctions represent a rare move by London and Washington against Israelis as war rages in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The transatlantic allies’ steadfast support for Israel’s military operations in the territory has drawn heavy criticism both internationally and among sections of their domestic populations.

Announcing the asset freezes and travel and visa bans against the settlers, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: “Israel must also take stronger action and put a stop to settler violence.”

“Too often, we see commitments made and undertakings given but not followed through,” he added.

Cameron stated “extremist Israeli settlers” are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and “forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs”, branding the behaviour “illegal and unacceptable”.

“Extremist settlers, by targeting and attacking Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Two of the individuals sanctioned – Moshe Sharvit and Yinon Levy – have in recent months used physical aggression, threatened families at gunpoint and destroyed property, Cameron’s foreign ministry said.

Their actions are “part of a targeted and calculated effort to displace Palestinian communities”, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office added.

London also targeted Zvi Bar Yosef, who it said had set up an illegal outpost in the West Bank in 2018, which has been described by local Palestinian residents as a “source of systematic intimidation and violence”.

A fourth person London sanctioned, Ely Federman, has been involved in multiple incidents against Palestinian shepherds in the South Hebron Hills, according to the Foreign Office.

Levi was the only one of the quartet to also be targeted by the US when it imposed sanctions on four Israeli settlers for attacking Palestinian communities in the West Bank, accusing them of undermining stability and security in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The US sanctions target Levy, David Chai Chasdai and Einan Tanjil, who are accused of assaulting and intimidating Palestinians. They also target Shalom Zickerman, who is accused of assaulting Israeli activists.

The White House also announced a new decree to penalise perpetrators of “extremist settler violence” in the West Bank.

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