Israel-Gaza War, Settlers, Opinion

Anti-Settler Sanctions Send the Wrong Message to Everyone

A small number of violent settlers do not justify a special sanctions regime which could be expanded to pressure Israel into agreeing to a presently existentially threatening Palestinian state.

(Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The October 7th massacre has created a rare political consensus in Israeli society.

Whether on the political right, left, or center, there is a widespread understanding that a Palestinian state poses an existential threat to the State of Israel. Contrary to Western platitudes, Hamas does indeed represent a significant majority of Palestinian society. Even the ostensibly moderate Fatah has denied, minimized, celebrated and encouraged Hamas' slaughter, with the Palestinian Authority set to pay Hamas' fighters and their families.

In such a reality, a Palestinian state would all but guarantee a repeat of October 7th in Israel's main cities, only a few kilometers away. Despite this, many in the international community has concluded that this is precisely the time to pressure Israelis into reviving the "two state solution".

On February 4th, US President Joe Biden took the unprecedented step of issuing sanctions against four Israeli citizens accused of violence against Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. In December, the US and the UK announced a travel ban on settler extremists. Canada, the UK and the EU are contemplating expanding the sanctions regime.

In his executive order, Biden stated that settler violence "undermine[s] 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."

While sanctions are currently limited to four individuals, it is likely that Biden and other leaders will face internal pressure to expand the sanctions to Israeli right-wing politicians or even military commanders defending settlements.

Certainly, Israeli extremists that target Palestinians must be dealt with to the full extent of Israeli law.

However, sanctions against Israeli petty criminals create a false equivalence with Hamas terrorists, also the target of American and international sanctions. Hamas is a highly coordinated organization, which enjoys high-level Iranian, Qatari and Turkish patronage, and which until recently served as the de facto government of the Gaza Strip. It is responsible for the murder and maiming of thousands of Israelis, among them American citizens.

By contrast, "settler violence" is a sporadic phenomenon, carried out by opportunistic thugs, absent any coordination or organization. While reprehensible, settler lawlessness is largely confined to harassment and vandalism, carried out by a few individuals out of the total half-million Jews living beyond the Green Line.

Of course, settler violence pales in comparison to the scale of Palestinian terror. According to the Israeli Shin Bet, 2023 saw an average of 200 terrorist attacks per month, with 50 Israelis murdered (not including the October 7th attack). Whatever one's position on Israeli settlements, it is misguided to lump a few Israeli hoodlums in with the much larger problem of Palestinian terrorists.

Settler thugs justifiably do not elicit much support even from Israel's supporters. However, Israel and its allies must mobilize against the sanctions regime lest it become a tool to punish Israeli "two state" realists. Israel's leadership may find itself under intense pressure to make dangerous security concessions for fear of being locked out of American and international financial systems.

The renewed push for a Palestinian state while Palestinian society continues to glorify and perpetrate mass slaughter against Jews is misguided and a recipe for more bloodshed. In the wake of the greatest attack on Jews since the Holocaust, sanctions and international pressure must be applied to Palestinian terrorists and their enablers, not Israelis who clearly recognize the danger.

Avraham Russell Shalev is a lawyer and researcher in the Kohelet Policy Forum's legal department.


Do not send comments that include inflammatory words, defamation, and content that exceeds the limit of good taste.

Iran Attack

Iran: We did not inform any country of our intentions to attack Israel

Following reports that the US was informed about the attack and that Washington conveyed a message to Tehran that it had to remain within clear limits, the Iranian Foreign Minister denied any agreement prior to the strike.

JFeed Staff | 12:19

Israel-Gaza War, Northern Front

Watch: IDF strikes additional Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon

The IDF struck a number of positions and structures belonging to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Avi Woolf | 11:46

US-Israel Relations

Report: US cleared way for Iranian attack on Israel

Reports are surfacing that the US allowed a  "controlled" attack and promised Iran that it would do everything to prevent a reaction from the side of Israel.

JFeed Staff | 08:09

Israel-Gaza War

IDF to call up two reserve brigades for "operational missions" in the Gaza Sector in the next few days

This announcement comes after the IDF had previously removed almost all its maneuvering forces from the Gaza Strip itself.

Avi Woolf | 14.04.24

Iranian Attack

Report: Israel's cabinet suggested attack on Iran; Biden nixed it

The New York Times reported that members of Israel's political-security cabinet suggested attacking Iran as a response to last night's strike. However, US President Biden nixed the idea in a conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Uriel Be'eri, JFeed Staff | 14.04.24

Israel-Gaza War

Watch: IDF paves causeway across Wadi Gaza river, better connecting IDF operations in north and southern Gaza 

IDF forces used this and other pathways to conduct a brigade-level raid on terrorist infrastructures in the central Gaza Strip.

Avi Woolf | 14.04.24

Israel-Gaza War

Following public outcry: Hamas terrorist moved from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem

After a bereaved father joined the public protest against the terrorist receiving treatment in Jerusalem, he was moved to a different facility in Ashdod.

Eliyahu Luksenberg, JFeed | 12.04.24

Israel-Gaza War, Germany

German State Secretary of Defense meets Israeli counterpart to discuss war, Arrow 3 deal

Benedikt Zimmer visited Israel as a guest of Defense Ministry Director-General Eyal Zamir, where they discussed matters of interest to both nations.

Avi Woolf | 11.04.24

Israel-Gaza War, Northern Front

Watch: IDF strikes Hezbollah military compound

The IDF struck three Hezbollah military compounds in the areas of Meiss el Jabal, Yarine, and Khiam.

Avi Woolf | 11.04.24

Israel-Gaza War, Humanitarian Aid

Watch: IDF Spokesperson says army's Khan Yunis exit meant to give Gazans in Rafah a place to flee

The Spokesperson further reiterated the importance of humanitarian aid in IDF operations and its coordination with aid groups and the US.

Avi Woolf | 11.04.24

Israel-Gaza War, Humanitarian Aid

Without UNRWA? IDF meets with humanitarian organizations to help coordinate aid to Gaza

The meeting marks part of Israel's efforts to better coordinate with humanitarian organizations to avoid incidents such as the one in which the IDF mistakenly struck a World Central Kitchen convoy.

Avi Woolf | 11.04.24

US-Israel Relations

Trump vs. Biden: "Lost control in everything related to Israel"

Former US President Donald Trump harshly attacked incumbent President Biden's policy towards Israel: "Biden has lost control of everything related to Israel, he has totally abandoned it."

Uriel Be'eri, JFeed Staff | 11.04.24