Southern Senators urge Biden to rescind decisions that “undercut” Israel

Jewish residents of the Ramat Migron outpost in Samaria, Sept. 8, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas urged President Joe Biden to rescind two recent decisions that “undercut our most valuable alliance in the Middle East,” Israel.

The Feb. 29 letter, co-signed by eight Republican senators, criticized Biden’s Feb. 1 executive order authorizing the State Department to “arbitrarily punish Israelis in Judea and Samaria” for alleged attacks against Palestinians. There were no criteria given as to what would trigger sanctions.

“Under the guise of ‘peace, security, or stability of the West Bank,’ it appears the State Department can punish arbitrarily any Israeli it wants. Yet, the State Department hasn’t acted against the Palestinian Authority, which makes ‘pay to slay’ payments to terrorists for murdering innocent Israeli families.”

The senators asked for “a full explanation of what evidentiary standards and processes are intended to be employed when choosing to sanction Israelis while ignoring the serious crimes committed by the Palestinian Authority.”

The order led to four Israelis being sanctioned, including having their bank accounts frozen.

Between Oct. 7 and Feb. 24, there were 256 recorded incidents of “nationalist crime” by Jews in the territories. The previous year, there were 489, meaning the incidents are down by half despite heightened tensions following the Hamas attack of Oct. 7.

Earlier this year, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen called reports of growing “settler violence” a “blood libel” and “a lie disconnected from reality.”

Conversely, Palestinian violence has spiked, with shootings at the highest level since the Second Intifada of 2000-2005.

Between Oct. 7 and Jan. 15, Rescuers Without Borders first responders recorded more than 2,600 Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis in Judea and Samaria, including 760 cases of rock-throwing, generally at vehicles on highways, 551 fire bombings, 12 attempted or successful stabbings and nine vehicular assaults.

Over the past year, there have been 13 Israeli civilians in Jerusalem and 17 in the territories who were murdered by Palestinians. The number of Palestinians murdered by Israelis outside of military operations during that time, by “violent settlers,” is zero.

The other decision was a Feb. 8 directive to have Israel provide assurances that weapons made in the U.S. would not be used to commit war crimes, or face a possible cutoff of aid. American law already requires that countries receiving American weapons adhere to the laws of war, as the senators noted, adding that “Israel has provided ample evidence of the steps it takes to avoid civilian casualties.”

The senators urged Biden to “sanction terrorists and their supporters instead of their victims.”

Also signing the letter were Sens. Katie Boyd Britt (Ala.), Ted Budd (N.C.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Rick Scott (Fla.), and Roger Wicker (Miss.)

From SJL and JNS reports.