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Turning Up The Heat


The Oasis Reporters


March 17, 2024


 

 

 

 

 

U.S. President Joe Biden (left) sits with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of the Israeli war cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, 2023.Miriam Alster/AFP via Getty Images



By FP



The Biden administration sanctioned two Israeli settler outposts in the West Bank and three Israeli citizens on Thursday, citing violence against Palestinian civilians as the rationale for the latest economic restrictions.




“There is no justification for extremist violence against civilians, whatever their national origin, ethnicity, race, or religion,” the U.S. Department of State said in a statement.




“Today’s action further underscores our commitment to promoting peace, security, and stability for civilians in the West Bank and accountability for the individuals and entities involved in these actions.”

 



The measures represent the first time that the United States has imposed sanctions on settler outposts—not just individual citizens—and come amid a growing divide between U.S. lawmakers and Israeli officials over the direction of the Israel-Hamas war and the worsening humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip.



The European Union is reportedly also inching closer to determining sanctions to impose on Israeli settlers in the West Bank, Reuters reported, after Hungary—one of the most vocal opponents of the measures—backed down from its initial resistance.


The same day that the U.S. sanctions were announced, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered his harshest public criticism yet of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, identifying him as one of the “major obstacles” to peace and calling for new elections in a speech on the Senate floor that angered Israeli officials.




“A new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel, at a time when so many Israelis have lost their confidence in the vision and direction of their government,” Schumer said.

 



Such frank, public criticism of the Israeli leader by Schumer reflects just how much the Israel-Hamas war has shifted views in Washington.




“For a Jewish senator from New York, the majority leader, a friend of Netanyahu who’s the most centrist possible Democrat and even leans hawkish on Israel, to voice criticism like this?” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat. “If you’ve lost Chuck Schumer, you’ve lost America.”

 



President Joe Biden on Friday appeared to back the senator’s comments, calling it a “good speech” that “expressed serious concern shared not only by him, but by many Americans.”

 

 



Meanwhile, negotiations for a temporary cease-fire are set to continue. After Hamas proposed a new cease-fire plan, Israel announced on Friday that it would dispatch a delegation of officials to Qatar to participate in a new round of talks, although Israeli officials also called Hamas’s proposals “unrealistic”.


© Foreign Policy.







Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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