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Wednesday, April 17, 2024  
08 Shawwal 1445  

US announces visa ban policy after warning Israel over West Bank violence

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media prior to departure from Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, on December 1, 2023. SAUL LOEB/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media prior to departure from Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, on December 1, 2023. SAUL LOEB/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

The US State Department will impose visa bans against individuals involved in undermining peace, security or stability in the occupied West Bank, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Tuesday announcing a new visa restriction policy.

The restrictions will target those who have committed acts of violence or taken other actions that restrict civilians’ access to essential services and basic necessities and may also apply to those individuals’ family members, Blinken said.

The statement did not identify any individuals facing visa bans, or say how many would be targeted.

President Joe Biden and other senior US officials have warned repeatedly that Israel must act to stop violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank, which has increased since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

“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,” Blinken said.

During meetings in Israel last week, Blinken told officials Washington was “ready to take action using our own authorities,” he said.

Since a 1967 Middle East war, Israel has occupied the West Bank, which Palestinians want as the core of an independent state. It has built Jewish settlements there that most countries deem illegal. Israel disputes this and cites historical and biblical ties to the land.

Daily settler attacks have more than doubled, UN figures show, since Hamas, which controls the separate Palestinian enclave of Gaza, killed 1,200 Israelis and took about 240 hostage. Israel has since bombed and invaded Gaza, killing more than 15,000 people.

A senior State Department official said last week the US wants Israel to prosecute individuals responsible for the West Bank violence but had yet to see such a step.

Blinken said Washington would “continue to engage with the Israeli leadership to make clear that Israel must take additional measures to protect Palestinian civilians from extremist attacks,” adding that the Palestinian Authority also must do more to curb Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

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West Bank

gaza strip

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Hamas Israel attack 2023

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