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EU close to sanctioning Judea and Samaria residents, Hamas

“It seems that today all will agree on putting sanctions on both Hamas and the violent settlers who are harassing Palestinians,” Joseph Borrell said.

European Union flags in front of the European Commission in Brussels. Credit: Symbiot/Shutterstock.
European Union flags in front of the European Commission in Brussels. Credit: Symbiot/Shutterstock.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell signaled on Monday that the bloc is ready to financially punish Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria and Hamas terrorists.

He expressed confidence that the 27-country organization will slap sanctions on both groups on Monday ahead of a foreign ministers meeting in the Belgian capital.

“It seems that today all will agree on putting sanctions on both Hamas and the violent settlers who are harassing Palestinians in the West Bank,” Borrell said.

The financial sanctions against Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria appear ready to move forward after Budapest reportedly dropped its opposition.

According to Reuters, other nations relatively friendly to Israel, including Germany and Austria, agreed to impose sanctions on Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria once more sanctions were imposed on Hamas.

The E.U. move follows the decision by the United States last week to sanction Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.

According to an official State Department spokesperson “fact sheet,” three Israeli males are “accused of undermining peace, security and stability in the West Bank, which undermine(s) the national security and foreign policy objectives of the United States, including the viability of a two-state solution, ensuring Israelis and Palestinians can attain equal measures of security, prosperity and freedom, and reducing the risk of regional destabilization.”

The sanctions are pursuant to President Joe Biden’s Feb. 1 Executive Order 14115, outlined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, which states that financial sanctions would be applied to individuals in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) who are seen as “undermining stability” and the “prospects of peace.”

The latest announcement states: “All property and interests in property of the designated persons that are in the United States or in possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).”

The new sanctions also apply to the farms owned by two of the three sanctioned men, as the State Department claims the properties are serving as bases from which the accused are perpetrating “violence against Palestinians.”

Washington has yet to levy sanctions on any Palestinian Authority Arabs who have carried out acts of violence, despite the executive order’s wording, which supposedly can apply to both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. 

The three men sanctioned are Zvi Bar Yosef, from the Samarian community of Halamish, along with his property, known as “Zvi’s Farm” and located around 22 miles east of Ben-Gurion Airport; Moshe Sharvit, whose property known as “Moshe’s Farm,” in northeastern Samaria, was listed alongside him; and Neriya Ben Pazi, who lives at the Rimonim Farm in the Binyamin region of Samaria.

Challenge in US court

International attorney and U.S. law expert Marc Zell, whose team of attorneys will be challenging Biden’s executive order through a civil suit to be filed in U.S. federal court in the coming days, told JNS the additional sanctions levied by the Biden administration were “significant.”

“The sanctions represent further implementation of the Feb. 1 EO, which we see was not a one-time affair. It shows the administration is attempting to rachet up the pressure on Israel,” he said. 

“What’s new about this one is that it applies to two communities in their entirety. This means that anybody who is living in these communities in addition to the specific people mentioned will also theoretically (or not theoretically) be subject to potential sanctions in the United States, and could have their bank assets frozen or seized,” Zell added. 

Yesha Council chairman and outgoing Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman blasted the decision, saying the sanctions were a political move by team Biden.

“Another scandalous decision from the chairman of Joe Biden’s election campaign. Instead of punishing the terrorists, the United States punishes the victims. Instead of fighting the roots of Palestinian terrorism, the United States chooses to back terrorists and anarchists who continue to come and attack communities throughout Judea and Samaria,” he said.

Israel Ganz, chairman of the Binyamin Regional Council, told JNS, “The Americans are acting against the State of Israel in a bullying manner while giving a reward and a windfall to Hamas.

“The Israeli government must not accept this violation of its authority. We demand that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the government ministers apply Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria,” Ganz said. “This should be the Israeli answer to the violation of the sovereignty of the State of Israel, which is also an appropriate answer to Hamas’s ambitions to [ethnically] cleanse us from here and murder us.”

Ganz concluded by vouching for those placed under sanctions.

“I support the residents of Judea and Samaria against whom the sanctions were issued and the places where they live. I personally know several of them, who operate legally, and their contribution to the security of the country and to the continued Israeli hold on the country’s heartland is enormous,” he said.

Likud Knesset member Dan Illouz also condemned the sanctions, which he called “unjust,” adding that Israel’s judiciary was capable of handling an internal matter without outside intervention.

“I unequivocally condemn the U.S. government’s decision to impose more sanctions on Israeli citizens. This move undermines the integrity of Israel’s robust legal system and disregards our status as a freedom-loving democracy,” he told JNS. “It looks like a desperate attempt to find the middle ground between Israel, a freedom-loving country, and the terrorism of Hamas.”

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