Top US official presses police minister on settler violence

US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland has apparently sought answers from Israel regarding settler attacks on Palestinians, during a meeting in Jerusalem with Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev.

In a tweet, Bar-Lev says Nuland “took an interest in, among other things, settler violence and how to lower regional tensions and strengthen the Palestinian Authority.”

Bar-Lev, who is in charge of police, says he told her that giving out more work permits to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza was “the key to lower tensions, just like implementing a plan for a joint industrial zone on the outskirts of Gaza and more. American help for projects of this kind could help a lot.”

As of last month, the Shin Bet had recorded nearly 400 settler attacks on Palestinians in 2021, up from fewer than 300 last year. Critics say few attacks lead to arrests or prosecutions. According to police, the number of indictments of Jewish extremists has doubled from 16 to 32 over the past year.

The State Department usually stays out of such matters unless they involve US citizens, but on October 1, it issued a rare rebuke following an attack, signaling a possible shift.

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