US President Joe Biden & PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem
US President Joe Biden & PA President Mahmoud Abbas in BethlehemREUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

US President Joe Biden on Thursday 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, Shalom Zicherman, and Yinon Levi.

According to the State Department Chasdai initiated and led a riot, which involved setting vehicles and buildings on fire, assaulting Palestinian civilians, and causing damage to property in Huwara, which resulted in the death of a Palestinian civilian.

Tanjil was involved in assaulting Palestinian farmers and Israeli activists by attacking them with stones and clubs, resulting in injuries that required medical treatment.

The State Department stated that according to video evidence, Zicherman assaulted Israeli activists and their vehicles in Judea and Samaria, blocking them on the street, and attempted to break the windows of passing vehicles with activists inside. Zicherman cornered at least two of the activists and injured both.

Regarding Levi, the State Department stated that he "led a group of settlers who engaged in actions creating an atmosphere of fear in the West Bank. He regularly led groups of settlers from the Meitarim Farm outpost that assaulted Palestinian and Bedouin civilians, threatened them with additional violence if they did not leave their homes, burned their fields, and destroyed their property. Levi and other settlers at Meitarim Farm have repeatedly attacked multiple communities within the West Bank."

Biden wrote at the beginning of the order that he finds that the "situation in the West Bank — in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction — has reached intolerable levels and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region."

According to him "These actions undermine the foreign policy objectives of the United States, including the viability of a two-state solution and ensuring Israelis and Palestinians can attain equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom. They also undermine the security of Israel and have the potential to lead to broader regional destabilization across the Middle East, threatening United States personnel and interests."

According to the White House, the order will allow the United States to issue financial sanctions against those directing or participating in certain actions, including acts or threats of violence against civilians, intimidating civilians to cause them to leave their homes, destroying or seizing property, or engaging in "terrorist activity" in Judea and Samaria.

The White House added that the State Department will also be announcing an initial set of designations under the new order.

The White House also stated that the order seeks "to promote peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the executive order: "The overwhelming majority of Judea and Samaria residents are law-abiding citizens, many of them are currently fighting in active and reserve duty to defend Israel.

"Israel acts against all lawbreakers everywhere, and therefore there is no place for special steps on the matter."

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir commented: "The time has come for America to rethink its policy in Judea and Samaria. President Biden is mistaken when it comes to the heroic citizens of Israel and residents of Judea and Samaria. The ones who are attacked, the ones who are pelted with stones in attempts to harm and murder them, are the heroic settlers of Judea and Samaria."

Earlier in the day, Axios Journalist Barak Ravid reported that the Biden administration considered including Ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich in the list of people to be sanctioned, but eventually decided to leave them out and focus at this stage on people who perpetrated attacks.

Religious Zionism Chairman, Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich responded to the reports of the sanctions: "The ‘violence campaign’ is an anti-Semitic lie spread by Israel's enemies, aimed at discrediting and harming the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, thereby disputing the existence of the entire State of Israel. This is an anti-moral BDS campaign that turns the victim into the aggressor and permits Jewish blood. It's a shame that the Biden administration is cooperating with this at a time when Jews are paying a heavy price in blood and losing the best of their sons in the war in Gaza," he said.

"With God's help, I will continue to act fearlessly to strengthen and promote Jewish life in all parts of the Land of Israel and strive for sustainable peace, which will only be achieved when the Arabs' hope for the establishment of an Arab state on the ruins of the Jewish homeland is dashed. If the price of this is the imposition of American sanctions on me – then so be it.”