President Joe Biden is expected to issue an executive order targeting Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have been attacking Palestinians in the occupied territory, according to four people familiar with the matter.
A senior administration official, who like the others was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the White House was expected to announce the order later Thursday.
The order comes with Biden facing growing criticism for his administration’s strong support of Israel as casualties mount in the Israel-Hamas war. The move is rare step against America’s closest ally in the Mideast whom Biden says has the right to defend itself. But the Democratic President has pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to show greater restraint in its military operations aimed at rooting out Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza and struck Israel on Oct. 7.
Biden has spoken out against retaliatory attacks by Israeli settlers and pledged that those those responsible for the violence will be held accountable. He said in late October that the violence by “extremist settlers” amounted to “pouring gasoline” on the already burning fires in the Middle East. “It has to stop. They have to be held accountable. It has to stop now,” Biden said.
Israel Defense Forces stepped up raids across the West Bank after the war began. Hamas militants are present in the West Bank, but largely operate underground because of Israel’s tight grip on the territory. Palestinians complain that the Israeli crackdown in the West Bank have further blurred the line between security forces and radical, violent settlers.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.