WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden on Thursday issued an executive order that targets Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have been accused of attacking Palestinians and Israeli peace activists in the occupied territory, imposing financial sanctions and visa bans in an initial round against four individuals.
Those settlers were involved in acts of violence, as well as threats and attempts to destroy or seize Palestinian property, according to the order. The penalties aim to block the four from using the U.S. financial system and bar American citizens from dealing with them. U.S. officials said they were evaluating whether to punish others involved in attacks that have intensified during the Israel-Hamas war.
Biden's order is a rare step against America's closest ally in the Mideast who, Biden says, has the right to defend itself. But the Democratic president has pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to show greater restraint in its military operations aimed at rooting out Hamas. Netanyahu denounced the U.S. penalties, which his government was notified in advance, U.S. officials said.