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US tells Israeli banks not to freeze accounts of sanctioned settlers

April 2, 2024 at 3:55 pm

This picture taken on August 23, 2022 shows a view of the exterior of the headquarters of the Bank of Israel, the country’s central bank, in Kiryat Ben-Gurion in Jerusalem [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images]

The US has told the Israeli Finance Ministry that banks in Israel do not need to freeze the accounts of settlers who have been placed under sanctions by Washington.

According to the Times of Israel, banks had frozen the accounts of the settlers after the US announced the sanctions in an effort to tackle settler violence in the occupied West Bank. However, in a letter sent to the Finance Ministry last week, Washington said the measures were “not intended to compel Israeli banks to close the accounts of targeted individuals.”

Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, had urged banks not to enforce the sanctions. It is “unthinkable” for an Israeli bank to take action against an Israeli citizen following a US decision, Smotrich said.

Officials in Israeli banks said they had been forced to enforce the measures Washington imposed on the four settlers, otherwise the US could sanction banks who continue to serve sanctioned individuals.

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