The Biden administration is preparing to impose visa bans on dozens of Israel settlers and Palestinians who have committed acts of violence in the West Bank.
In a statement on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced a new policy “targeting individuals believed to have been involved in undermining peace, security, or stability in the West Bank, including through committing acts of violence or taking other actions that unduly restrict civilians’ access to essential services and basic necessities.”
U.S. officials are most concerned about a recent surge in attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, but the new policy will also deny U.S. entry to Palestinians who have committed violent acts against Israelis. Under State Department privacy rules, the names of the people who will be designated in the coming days will not be made public.
The restrictions may also apply to their immediate family members, Mr. Blinken said.
The move comes as the United States tries to revive efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the current Gaza conflict is over, in the hope of breaking the cycle of violence between the two sides. Any two-state solution will require Israel’s government to rein in right-wing West Bank settlers, who oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.
Extremist settler violence has spiked recently, and Palestinians and many analysts say that Israel’s government has allowed the often heavily armed settlers to operate with impunity. Attacks on Palestinians, meant to drive them from their homes, had reached their highest recorded levels even before the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks — and have only accelerated since then.
“Instability in the West Bank both harms the Israeli and Palestinian people and threatens Israel’s national security interests,” Mr. Blinken said in his statement.
President Biden and Mr. Blinken have personally pressed Israeli officials to take stronger action against West Bank settlers, with Mr. Blinken warning of the upcoming action during his visit to Israel last week.
In late October, Mr. Biden said that settler attacks on Palestinians were like “pouring gasoline on the fire.”
The settlers are “attacking Palestinians in places that they’re entitled to be,” Mr. Biden said, calling for “accountability.”