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US To Impose Visa Bans On People Undermining Peace, Security On West Bank

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new visa limitation policy in a statement on Tuesday, saying that the US State Department will block visas for anybody involved in compromising peace, security, or stability in the occupied West Bank.

According to Blinken, the limits may also apply to the relatives of people who have engaged in violent activities or taken other measures that impede civilians’ access to fundamental commodities and services.

Since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, there has been an uptick in violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. President Joe Biden and other senior U.S. officials have advised Israel on multiple occasions to put an end to this bloodshed.

“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.

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

A representative for the State Department, Matthew Miller, informed reporters that the new policy will affect dozens of people in the end and that the first restrictions under it would be implemented on Tuesday. Additional designations will be issued in the next few days.

Miller stated that any targeted Israeli with a valid U.S. visa would receive notification that their visa has been cancelled.

Israel has held the West Bank, which the Palestinians desire to be the centre of their own sovereign state, since the Middle East War in 1967. There, it constructed Jewish communities that are considered illegal by most nations. Israel denies this, pointing to biblical and historical connections to the region.

U.N. estimates indicate that since Hamas, which governs the autonomous Palestinian enclave of Gaza, killed 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped approximately 240 others, the number of daily settler attacks has more than doubled. Subsequently, Israel has attacked and bombarded Gaza, resulting in over 15,000 fatalities.

According to a senior State Department official, Israel has not yet taken any concrete steps towards prosecuting those accountable for the violence in the West Bank, despite US demands.

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,” according to Blinken, who also stated that the Palestinian Authority needs to do more to stop attacks by Palestinians on Israelis.

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