EU chief urges sanctions on Israeli settlers in occupied West Bank

AFP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 13 Dec 2023

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday backed imposing sanctions on terrorist Israeli settlers responsible for attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli settlers extremists attacking Palestinians. AFP


"The rise in violence by extremist settlers is inflicting immense suffering on the Palestinians. It undermines the prospects for a lasting peace and could further exacerbate regional instability," the European Commission president told EU lawmakers.

"I am in favour of sanctioning those involved in the attacks in the West Bank. They must be held accountable. This violence has nothing to do with the fight against Hamas and must stop."

Von der Leyen's comments come after European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday that he would put forward a proposal to sanction the West Bank settlers.

The measures would require the unanimous backing of the EU's 27 member states, but there are divisions within the bloc.

The EU move comes after the United States said last week it would refuse visas to settlers behind a wave of violence in the West Bank, in a rare rebuke to its close ally Israel.

Violent attacks, including fatal shootings of Palestinians by armed Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank have risen sharply. 

United Nations data has shown a sharp increase in these attacks since 7 October — though European and US diplomats have expressed concerns for years about such violence and the sense it frequently goes unpunished by Israel.

Since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank began in 1967, about 700,000 Jewish immigrants from countries such as Russia, the United States, and France have established residence in settlements, protected by the Israeli army.

The US decision remains a point of contention as nearly 60,000 Americans reside in these Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. US passport holders cannot be barred from entering their own country.

All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are considered illegal by the international community, as they contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of population into occupied territories.

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