UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron
UK Foreign Secretary David CameronReuters

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Monday announced sanctions against four Israeli citizens who reside in Judea and Samaria, accusing them of "human rights abuses" against Palestinian Arabs.

According to the UK Foreign Office, "There have been unprecedented levels of violence by extremist settlers in the West Bank over the past year. Some residents of illegal Israeli settlements and outposts have used harassment, intimidation, and violence to put pressure on Palestinian communities to leave their land."

Two of the individuals who will be sanctioned are Moshe Sharvit and Yinon Levy – who, according to the UK Foreign Office, "have in recent months used physical aggression, threatened families at gunpoint, and destroyed property as part of a targeted and calculated effort to displace Palestinian communities. One illegal outpost, set up by Zvi Bar Yosef, has been described by local Palestinian residents as a source of systematic intimidation and violence.”

Today’s measures put strict financial and travel restrictions on those who were designated by the UK.

The Foreign Office lists the targets of the sanctions as such:

"Moshe Sharvit – an extremist settler who has threatened, harassed, and assaulted Palestinian shepherds and their families in the Jordan Valley. In October 2023, one community of twenty families fled after Sharvit attacked the residents and told them they had five hours to leave.

Yinon Levy – leader of the ‘Meitarim Farm’ outpost, founded in 2021, whose settlers have used physical violence and the destruction of property to displace Palestinian communities including Zanuta in October 2023;

Zvi Bar Yosef – a settler leader who, since setting up the ‘Zvi’s Farm’ outpost in 2018, has used intimidation and violence against local Palestinians, including twice threatening at gunpoint young families having a picnic;

Ely Federman – involved in multiple incidents against Palestinian shepherds in the South Hebron Hills."

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron stated: “Today’s sanctions place restrictions on those involved in some of the most egregious abuses of human rights. We should be clear about what is happening here. Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs. This behavior is illegal and unacceptable. 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.

“Extremist settlers, by targeting and attacking Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians,” he added.

The Foreign Office wrote in its announcement "Violence in the West Bank reached record levels in 2023. Israel’s failure to act has led to an environment of near total impunity for settler extremists in the West Bank."

It added: "The UK Government has continued to call for Israel to take action against those responsible for settler violence, release frozen funds to the Palestinian Authority, and halt settlement expansion. The Prime Minister has raised this with Prime Minister Netanyahu on a number of occasions, and in December, the UK and 13 partners released a statement calling on Israel to take immediate and concrete steps to tackle record-high settler violence in the occupied West Bank.

"The measures taken today are part of wider UK efforts to support a more stable West Bank, which is vital for the peace and security of both Palestinians and Israelis. The UK will consider additional actions, including further sanctions, as necessary."

It announcement concluded: "The UK continues to work with allies and partners, including across the region, to find a path towards a sustainable ceasefire and permanent peace."

Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order declaring a national emergency to deal with the "threat posed by the situation in the West Bank, including in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction," imposing sanctions on those who were considered to be involved in such actions.

The State Department has listed the four individuals who will be subject to the sanctions: David Chai Chasdai, Einan Tanjil, and Shalom Zicherman, in addition to Yinon Levi who was also targeted by the UK sanctions.