US unlikely to sanction Haredi IDF battalion, officials say

Biden administration urged by broad section of political spectrum and Israeli public outcry to reconsider decision which Netanyahu called 'most absurd and a moral outcry'

Israeli officials said on Wednesday that they believe the U.S. would not impose sanctions on the IDF's Netzah Yehuda Battalion over mistreatment of Palestinians, at least for the time being. The officials said the expected American decision would come as the result of Israeli pressure from all sides of the political spectrum.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that sanctions were being considered under the so-called Leahy law. "This is a very important law, and it’s one that we apply across the board. I think it’s fair to say that you’ll see results very soon,” he said.
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תיעוד מפעילות גדוד נצח יהודה בבית חאנון ומפקד גדוד 97 סגן אלוף שלמה
תיעוד מפעילות גדוד נצח יהודה בבית חאנון ומפקד גדוד 97 סגן אלוף שלמה
IDF Netzah Yehuda battalion fighting in Gaza
(Photo: IDF)
The sanctions would include, among other things, a prohibition on delivering American weapons to the battalion, and its soldiers and commanders would be barred from joint drills held jointly by the IDF and the American military.
Officials in Jerusalem were certain that the decision to impose the sanctions was already made and soon to be announced but now believe that the reaction of Israel's political leaders and the Israeli public outcry brought about a reconsideration in Washington.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the report that sanctions were coming by calling them "most absurd and a moral decry," and vowing his government would oppose them in any way it can while Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said they were a mistake.
"The problem is not in the military. It is in the political leadership," Lapid said. "The world understands that far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir does not care about enforcing the law in the West Bank and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is not opposed to Jewish terrorists or rioting by extreme settlers.
"The result is considerable harm to Israel's international standing as a country of laws and further erosion of Israel's position. IDF soldiers would be the first to suffer the consequences of the government's failed policies."
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Itamar Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich
(Photo: Alex Kolomoisky, AFP)
War cabinet minister Benny Gantz spoke with Blinken and urged him to reconsider placing any sanctions on the part of the military in times of war. He said sanctions are unwarranted because of the strong and independent Israeli judicial system.
At least two senior Israeli officials told Ynet the U.S. can be persuaded to suspend their intentions to sanction the Haredi battalion.
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