J Street Welcomes the Biden Administration’s Announcement of Visa Restrictions against Perpetrators of Settler Violence

December 6, 2023

J Street commends the Biden Administration for announcing the implementation of visa restrictions against extremist settlers who have committed acts of violence against Palestinian families in the West Bank.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the visa bans will target “individuals believed to have been involved in undermining peace, security, or stability in the West Bank, including through committing acts of violence or taking other actions that unduly restrict civilians’ access to essential services and basic necessities.”

Settler violence has been termed “nationalist terrorism” by Israel’s own security chiefs and undermines the already tenuous situation in the West Bank, threatening to ignite another front in the conflict. Indeed, far-right Israeli activists seem determined to inflame the situation, including those who have been authorized by Israeli police – under the authority of far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir – to march through Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter to “restore full Jewish control over the Temple Mount and Jerusalem.”

We urge rigorous and equal enforcement of the newly announced visa restrictions against both Israeli and Palestinian perpetrators. The Biden Administration must continue to stress Israel’s obligation to take action against settler violence and to hold perpetrators accountable.

We are encouraged by reports that the Biden Administration issued a cabinet memo directing multiple cabinet secretaries, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, to develop policy options against those responsible for settler violence. J Street has recommended a list of ten policy measures, including imposing asset freezes and financial restrictions on individuals and companies that promote, fund, and engage in settler violence, and designating organizations that do the same as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

We commend Members of Congress who have released multiple letters calling on the administration to push the Israeli government to end settler violence, protect Palestinian civilians, and prevent escalation. We look forward to working with and supporting lawmakers as they pursue further steps to combat the scourge of settler violence.

J Street has strongly condemned skyrocketing, unprecedented violence against Palestinians in the West Bank – perpetrated by both settlers and soldiers – since Hamas’ horrific terror attack against Israelis on October 7. With the world’s attention fixed on Gaza, extremist settlers have seized the opportunity to further their goal of driving Palestinians off their land and cementing permanent, undemocratic control over the entire West Bank.

Since October 7, the United Nations has recorded 318 settler attacks against Palestinians. Almost 150 households in 15 herding and Bedouin communities – comprising over 1,000 people, including 388 children – have been forced to flee their homes by settler violence, discriminatory demolition orders and access restrictions.

Violence from Palestinians, settlers and Israeli security forces continues at an alarming rate across the West Bank in the wake of Hamas’ October onslaught. Israeli security forces and settlers have killed approximately 250 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including 65 children. Seven Israelis, including three members of Israeli forces, have been killed in attacks by Palestinians, including a horrific shooting in Jerusalem for which Hamas claimed responsibility. An additional Israeli man was killed by an Israeli who appears to have misidentified him.

These attacks constitute the unacceptable targeting of civilians and risk triggering yet more escalation which would undermine both Israeli and Palestinian security.