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Canada imposes sanctions on extremist Israeli settlers in Occupied West Bank

May 17, 2024 at 2:34 pm

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly speaks to press on the first day of NATO foreign ministers meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on April 03, 2024. [Dursun Aydemir – Anadolu Agency]

In a significant move, the Canadian government has announced new sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act targeting extremist Israeli settlers responsible for violence against Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, stated that these measures are in response to the alarming escalation of settler attacks, which have undermined the human rights of Palestinians, prospects for a two-state solution and regional security.

The sanctions, which are the first to specifically target extremist Israeli settlers, impose a prohibition on dealings related to the listed individuals and render them inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The four individuals named in the sanctions are David Chai Chasdai, Yinon Levi, Zvi Bar Yosef and Moshe Sharvit.

Joly emphasised the troubling nature of the violence perpetrated by extremist Israeli settlers, stating, “While I was in the region recently, I heard directly from families that have been forced to leave their homes and farming lands as a direct result of violence and threats by extremist settlers. With these measures, we are sending a clear message that acts of extremist settler violence are unacceptable and that perpetrators of such violence will face consequences.”

In a government statement about the sanctions, Canada said that it remains committed to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East and continues to oppose the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Canadian government also said that it recognises the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Territories, which establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, particularly regarding the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the Occupied Territories.

Read: US decides against sanctioning Israeli battalion despite ‘gross human rights violations’

The statement cited UN reports which show that, since 7 October, 2023, there have been at least 800 reported incidents of settler violence against Palestinians, resulting in verbal and physical assaults, deaths, property damage and the destruction of farms. These attacks have led to the forced displacement of Palestinian communities and contributed to growing regional instability.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) has welcomed Ottawa’s decision to sanction settlers and but went on to stress that it is “belated”. The rights group warned that the decision is a “narrow approach to state-settler violence” and fails to address the enabling role of the Israeli government.

“For months, Canada has warned that settler terrorism has the support of Israeli leaders and is often carried out with the protection or even participation of Israeli soldiers,” CJPME said.

Canada joins a list of other Western governments to impose sanctions on Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Earlier this year, the UK imposed sanctions on four Israeli nationals saying they were extremist settlers who had violently attacked Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The US has also taken measures against settlers but questions have been asked over the effectiveness after Washington urged banks not to freeze accounts of the sanctioned settlers.