• White House eases sanctions on violent Israeli settlers

    Même sur les sanctions à l’encontre des colons les plus violents, les USA reculent !

    The US has dramatically softened the sanctions it imposed on seven violent Israeli settlers by allowing them to use their accounts at Israeli banks, Israel Hayom reported on 29 March. The move makes the US sanctions, which allegedly were meant to punish the settlers for violent acts against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, essentially meaningless.

    The US Treasury sent a letter to Israel’s finance ministry clarifying that Israel is not required to prevent the sanctioned settlers from making routine use of their bank accounts.

    Earlier this month, The Atlantic magazine had referred to the sanctions as President Biden’s “doomsday option” against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his religious settler supporters.

    However, according to Israel Hayom, the US announcement empties sanctions against the settlers of any practical content since freezing the bank accounts of the seven men was the only step that affected them in any practical way.

    The sanctions continue to prevent the settlers from doing any financial transactions with US banks or traveling to the US, but as far as is known, they do not own assets in the US and have no intention of traveling there.

    The US Treasury letter comes two weeks after Finance Minister Smotrich announced that he would not renew the Israeli state’s agreement to compensate banks in Israel that maintain relations with financial entities linked to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

    Israel Hayom reported that Smotrich refused to renew his signature on a document that protects from lawsuits to the Israeli banks, Discount and Hapoalim, which have financial ties with Palestinian banks.

    Without this protection, the Israeli banks were expected to sever ties with the Palestinian banks, fearing that they would be exposed to international lawsuits on the charge of transferring funds to terrorists.

    Since the PA’s economy depends on the relationship with Israel, this meant an immediate freeze of economic activity in the occupied West Bank, which is under PA control.

    Israel Hayom added that the White House softened the sanctions on the settlers in response to Smotrich’s threat.

    However, it is unclear if the sanctions were meant to punish the settlers or Prime Minister Netanyahu in any significant way.