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US could sanction Israel’s Ben-Gvir, Smotrich as tensions rise over Gaza

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The United States is considering imposing sanctions on Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

According to the report, the US was preparing a package of sanctions that would include actions taken against the two far-right ministers who are influential members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet

The sanctions were considered amid exacerbated tensions between the US and Israel due to Washington’s insistence that Israel refrain from carrying out a full-fledged invasion of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu, who spoke with US President Joe Biden earlier in the week, insisted that he planned to move forward with a military operation in Rafah on Wednesday.

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a mosque in Rafah, February 12, 2024 (credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)

Could Biden reverse pro-Israel policies enacted by Donald Trump?

In addition to sanctions on Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, US officials told the WSJ that the White House wanted to enact a package that would reverse pro-Israeli policies set by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, as a means to show America’s “strong message of discontent.”

The policies that were planned to be reversed included the 2020 decision to label all goods made in the West Bank’s Area C as “made in Israel,” as per the report. In the end, Washington settled on a special presidential order against four Israeli settlers involved in violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

This is a developing story.

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