US Imposes 2nd Sanctions Round On Israeli Settlers, Same Day Schumer Attacks “Pariah” Netanyahu

The United States slapped a second round of sanctions targeting Israeli settlers and ‘illegal outposts’ in the occupied West Bank on Thursday. The sanctions mark somewhat of an unprecedented escalation of tensions between Washington and Tel Aviv, given this newest round focuses not just on individual settlers, but entire settlements too.

The Dept. of Treasury’s new action sanctions Moshe’s farm and Zvi’s farm, both described as being used as outposts from which settlers routinely launch attacks on Palestinian civilians.

The two leaders of the settlements – Moshe Sharvit and Zvi Bar Yosef – are also targeted in the new Treasury action. Axios writes that “The sanctions freeze assets the three settlers and two outposts might have in the U.S., ban them from getting a visa to enter the U.S. and block them from using the U.S. financial system.”

Likely the Biden administration took into consideration a recent report by the UN humanitarian office (OCHA), which documented nearly 500 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians between Oct. 7 and Jan. 31 of this year.

A prior initial round of rare sanctions targeting Israelis only dealt with individuals accused of committing acts of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, and not whole communities.

Some of the same settlers were already under sanctions by the United Kingdom:

Moshe Sharvit, a settler also already sanctioned in the U.K., allegedly attacked Palestinians and Israeli human rights activists in the vicinity of his outpost, which is also now sanctioned by the U.S.

British officials in February stated that Sharvit and another settler threatened Palestinian families at gunpoint and destroyed property as part of a “ targeted and calculated effort to displace Palestinian communities.”

Additionally, sanctions were imposed on Neriya Ben Pazi, who attacked and expelled Palestinian shepherds from hundreds of acres of land as recently as August 2023.

Israeli government officials have been angered by these US sanctions, which are small and targeted enough to perhaps be merely symbolic. Yet it adds to the growing distance between the Biden and Netanyahu governments over Gaza and West Bank policy. 

And Thursday’s scathing attack on Prime Minister Netanyahu ratchets tensions further, at a moment President Biden has still refused to attach any conditions to Israel’s use of American weaponry:

Schumer delivered what he deemed a “major address” on the escalating situation in the region, headlined by his comments directed at Netanyahu, the polarizing Israeli leader. He pressed that Netanyahu has “lost his way,” pointing to the political and legal battles he has faced recently while also allowing that the off-and-on prime minister’s “highest priority is the security of Israel.”

The Senate majority leader further blasted Netanyahu’s “far-right extremists” and has been “too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows.”

“As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me: The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after Oct. 7,” Schumer underscored. “The world has changed — radically — since then, and the Israeli people are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past.”

Schumer went so far as to call Netanyahu a “pariah”–but still critics have pointed out that even those US politicians leading the charge against Bibi are by and large unwilling to cut off the arms supplies and billions in funding to Israel…

A big question that remains is whether Israel will launch a full ground invasion of Rafah, despite Biden warnings not to. Israel is pledging to facilitate the safe exit of civilians before the operation, but there’s been little sign of this happening on a large scale.


Zero Hedges

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