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Naos: EU imposes sanctions against Israeli settlers for the first time

Naos: EU imposes sanctions against Israeli settlers for the first time

Violent acts by radical Israeli settlers are seen as an obstacle to efforts to find a long-term peace solution in the Middle East conflict. The EU is now sending a clear signal.

The EU is imposing sanctions for the first time because of violence by radical Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. The member states decided on the punitive measures in a written procedure, as several diplomats confirmed to the German Press Agency.

According to the information, the sanctions are aimed at people and organizations that are said to be responsible for violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. They are imposed using the EU sanctions instrument to punish serious human rights violations. People who are affected are no longer allowed to enter the EU or do business with EU citizens. In addition, their EU accounts and other assets must be frozen.

Symbolically important step

Attacks against Palestinians, like settlement construction in the West Bank, are seen as one of the obstacles to efforts to find a long-term peace solution in the Middle East conflict – especially after the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7th. The EU has repeatedly condemned the acts of violence and the construction of settlements – but to date there has never been the necessary consensus for punitive measures. The sanction decision is therefore seen as a sign of a change of course in the EU’s Israel policy – even if the punitive measures themselves have comparatively little impact on those affected.

With the sanctions, the EU is following the example of the USA. They have already imposed punitive measures aimed at extremist Israeli settlers. The USA accuses those affected, among other things, of taking part in violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.

Sanctions are intended to initiate criminal prosecution

The names of those affected will soon be published in the EU Official Journal. According to information from the dpa, the first step involves four people and two organizations. Ideally, according to diplomats, the sanctions should lead to the Israeli judiciary becoming more committed to prosecuting violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian villages and olive groves.

Only last week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, again described developments in the area as extremely worrying. In the West Bank, Palestinians are constantly being attacked by hundreds of Israeli settlers, who are often supported by the military, he said. After the killing of a 14-year-old Israeli from a settler family, four Palestinians, including a child, were killed in acts of revenge. As an occupying power, Israel is obliged to protect Palestinians from settler attacks and unlawful violence by security forces, said Türk.

Hungary avoided sanctions for a long time

The sanctions against settlers should actually have been decided a long time ago. However, the Hungarian government, which is considered particularly Israel-friendly in the EU, only signaled last month that it would no longer stand in their way. Part of the agreement was that there would also be new punitive measures against armed Islamist groups. They had already been imposed last week – in particular because of the use of “systematic and widespread sexual and gender-based violence”.

One reason for the tense situation in the West Bank is that Israel has been expanding disputed settlements there since it conquered the area in the Six-Day War in 1967. The number of settlers in the area that lies between Israel’s heartland and Jordan has now risen to around half a million. Including East Jerusalem there are even 700,000. The settlers live among around three million Palestinians.

The United Nations has classified these settlements as a major obstacle to a peace settlement because they leave little contiguous territory for the Palestinians in a possible two-state solution. Another reason for the tense situation is the Israeli army’s raids on West Bank cities due to attacks by Palestinians on Israelis.

Source: Stern

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