UK sanctions 4 Israeli settlers accused of human rights abuses in West Bank

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s government said Monday it is imposing sanctions on four Israeli settlers accused of committing human rights abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Foreign Office said the sanctions were in response to “unprecedented levels” of violence by settlers in the West Bank over the past year, including those who aggressively harassed or intimidated Palestinians to pressure them to leave their land. It said Israel’s failure to act has led to “near total impunity” for the settlers.

Officials alleged that Moshe Sharvit and Yinon Levy threatened Palestinian families at gunpoint and destroyed property in recent months as part of a “targeted and calculated effort to displace Palestinian communities.”

They named Zvi Bar Yosef and Ely Federman as the other two men sanctioned Monday. The four are subjected to a U.K. asset freeze and travel and visa ban.

“Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs. This behavior is illegal and unacceptable,” Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement.

“Israel must also take stronger action and put a stop to settler violence. Too often, we see commitments made and undertakings given, but not followed through,” Cameron added.

The sanctions followed a similar order earlier this month by U.S President Joe Biden, which also named Levy among four settlers accused of attacking Palestinians in the West Bank. The U.S. sanctions target three other settlers who are different from those named in the British sanctions.

Shlomo Ne’eman, the chairman of the Yesha Council, a right-wing organization which represents Jewish settlements in the West Bank, called for an immediate cancellation of the “ridiculous sanctions.”

But human rights lawyer Eitay Mack said he and others had documented Sharvit’s violence towards Palestinian farmers that had forced at least 10 Palestinian families to leave the area near Sharvit’s farm.

Mack, who was part of a group of organizations that have been calling for international sanctions against a dozen extremist settlers since 2021, said the sanctions will impact Sharvit’s ability to fundraise for his farm.

“It’s important because this is part of putting leverage on them, and I think other settlers and other settler organizations are afraid they don’t know who is going to be next,” he said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry did not react to the latest sanctions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the earlier U.S. measures, saying that “the vast majority of settlers are law-abiding citizens.” He said his country “takes action against law breakers in every place, and therefore there is no place for exceptional steps on this measure.”

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Melanie Lidman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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