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Canada sanctions four Israeli 'extremist settlers' accused of attacking Palestinians

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is imposing sanctions on Israelis she accuses of "extremist settler violence" in the West Bank, after months of pressure to do so. A man looks at graffiti that reads, in Hebrew, "revenge, death to Arabs," allegedly sprayed by Jewish West Bank settlers in the Palestinian West Bank village of Turmus Ayya, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Nasser Nasser

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is imposing sanctions on Israelis she accuses of "extremist settler violence" in the West Bank, three months after pledging to do so.

"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," Joly wrote in a statement.

"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."

Joly originally promised these sanctions in February, and calls them "a significant step" in Canada's approach to the region, as it tries to maintain the prospect of a two-state solution involving a Palestinian country living in peace next to Israel.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, which is separate from the Gaza Strip, since 1967, and settlers have increasingly built communities that Canada and many other countries say violate international law.

An attack last October by Hamas in Gaza prompted Israel to bombard that territory, and the United Nations says there has been a sharp uptick in West Bank settlers attacking Palestinians.

The sanctions announced Thursday apply to four men Ottawa accuses of "violent and destabilizing actions against Palestinian civilians and their property in the West Bank." All four were listed by the U.S. and U.K. earlier this year.

They include David Chai Chasdai, whom the U.S. State Department has accused of leading a rampage in which multiple vehicles and buildings were set on fire and one civilian was killed.

Yinon Levi has regularly led settlers to assault Palestinian and Bedouin civilians, Washington says, setting their fields on fire and threatening more violence if they don't leave.

Moshe Sharvit "repeatedly harassed, threatened, and attacked Palestinian civilians and Israeli human rights defenders," according to the State Department, including making 100 Palestinians flee after ordering them to leave.

Zvi Bar Yosef was accused by Washington of "repeated violence against Palestinians" and blocking access to their lands.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Canada will no longer automatically vote against most UN resolutions targeting Israel, because the right-wing coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been thwarting efforts toward a two-state solution.

The Israeli Embassy in Ottawa has been asked for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2024.

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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