The Biden administration is not showing serious resolve to stand up to violent settler activity in the West Bank.
A State Department official told The Electronic Intifada on Saturday that questions about Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir reportedly giving instructions that Israeli police are not to enforce the law on settlers in the West Bank would have to be addressed to “Minister Ben-Gvir and Israeli police.”
No words of criticism of the minister, a supporter of the racist Meir Kahane, were offered.The same response – ask Ben-Gvir and Israeli police – was given to a question about Israeli police reportedly having closed out an investigation into a settler rampage against Palestinians in the town of Huwwara. The State Department official offered nothing new when asked about President Joe Biden’s recent Washington Post op-ed in which he wrote, “I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable. The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank.”
The State Department official said, “We have been consistent and vocal – publicly and directly with the government of Israel – in our condemnation of extremist settler violence against Palestinian civilians.”
Yet these remain empty words without implementing meaningful actions. Biden’s op-ed gives the impression of trying to appease Democratic critics of the administration while – once again – substantive action is not taken.
The State Department official added, “And as President Biden has said, there must [be] accountability for settler violence, and we are prepared to take our own measures including visa restrictions.”
There were “no further specific details to preview at this stage.”
Don’t believe a word
The Biden administration is once again back to kicking the can down the road. It’s the same do-nothing policy the administration took for its first two-plus years in office – which ended disastrously for all involved.
Without concrete measures, there’s no reason to believe a word of Biden’s op-ed when it comes to holding Israelis accountable for lawbreaking.
Netanyahu got a green light from Biden for violence against Gaza. And the White House spokesperson John Kirby announced no red lines.Now, at worst, Netanyahu’s got a yellow light for the West Bank. As many drivers know, a yellow light isn’t cautionary but a signal to hit the gas.
And Israeli settlers are hitting the gas at the moment.
Their actions have led more than 1,000 Palestinians to flee their homes since 7 October.
Biden’s ally in Israel is ethnically cleansing Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, where desperate people are already getting out if they can and 1.7 million people are internally displaced – and now being fatally shot at or injured if they try to return to their homes in the north of Gaza.
The worst horrors may well still lie ahead if Netanyahu’s determination to wipe out Gaza from north to south isn’t stopped by the US and other countries.