DUBAI: The US is preparing to impose a visa ban on Israeli settlers involved in violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, a senior US State Department official said on Friday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when they met in Jerusalem that Washington was readying the sanctions, the source said.
He added that the visa ban could be imposed as early as next week, without disclosing the number of affected individuals.
Violence has surged in the West Bank in tandem with a war that erupted between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip nearly eight weeks ago.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank — occupied by Israel since 1967 — nearly 240 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers since Oct. 7.
Blinken, on his third trip to the region since the Gaza war began, urged Israel to prosecute settlers committing acts of violence against Palestinians.
“We’re looking to the Israeli government to take some additional steps to really stop this. And at the same time, we’re considering our own steps,” he said.
In an opinion piece for The Washington Post last month, US President Joe Biden wrote that his administration was prepared to issue visa bans against “extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank.”
A White House National Security Council spokesperson said in Washington that the US would continue to press for extending a truce in Gaza.
“We continue to work with Israel, Egypt, and Qatar on efforts to extend the humanitarian pause in Gaza,” Under the truce
which lasted a week, Hamas released 80 Israeli hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. More humanitarian aid was also delivered into war-devastated Gaza.
But the prospects of reestablishing a truce were being stymied because “Hamas has so far failed to produce a list of hostages that would enable a further extension of the pause,” the NSC spokesperson said.
President Biden and his national security team “will continue to remain deeply engaged as we look to free the remaining hostages,” the NSC spokesperson said.