newsIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

EU top diplomats reach deal on sanctions against Judea and Samaria Jews

"The political agreement is there," E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell told reporters.

Israeli Jews march to celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day near Havat Gilad in northern Samaria, May 9, 2019. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.
Israeli Jews march to celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day near Havat Gilad in northern Samaria, May 9, 2019. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.

E.U. foreign ministers reached a deal on sanctions against Jewish Judea and Samaria residents accused of harassing Palestinians, Spain’s top diplomat announced after meeting with his counterparts in Brussels.

“Today, we have approved, unanimously, the sanctions against the violent settlers that harass the Palestinians in the West Bank,” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told reporters, according to Reuters.

E.U. foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell told the press that a “solid compromise” had been agreed on. “I hope that this will be continued until full adoption soon, but the political agreement is there,” he added.

Initial reports did not indicate whether the foreign ministers reached the required unanimity on additional sanctions against Hamas.

Ahead of the summit, Borrell had signaled that the 27-member bloc was inching closer to penalizing Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, alongside operatives of the terrorist organization.

“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 stated on Monday morning.

The economic sanctions against Judea and Samaria Jews moved forward after Hungary reportedly dropped its opposition to the proposal.

Other nations relatively friendly to Israel, including Germany and Austria, reportedly agreed to blacklist Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria after more sanctions were imposed on Hamas.

According to previous reports, the European measures under discussion involve travel bans, asset freezes and a ban on importing products made by Israeli businesses beyond the 1949 armistice lines.

If Brussels decides to leverage its global human-rights sanctions regime, Israeli citizens could potentially be listed publicly alongside some of the world’s worst abusers.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who also serves as a minister in the Defense Ministry and has authority over civilian issues in Judea and Samaria, denounced the proposed E.U. sanctions as “a campaign which is designed in its entirety to besmirch the State of Israel.”

“There is only one appropriate Zionist response to this declaration—strengthening and establishing settlements in all parts of the Land of Israel,” he said, according to a statement from his office.

Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order targeting “persons undermining peace, security and stability” in Judea and Samaria, citing “high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages and property destruction.”

The White House initially named four Israeli Jews as the targets: Yinon Levi of Meitarim Farm; David Chai Chasdai of Givat Ronen; Einan Tanjil of Kiryat Ekron; and Shalom Zicherman of Mitzpe Yair. The Biden administration has since announced sanctions against three more Jews: Zvi Bar Yosef of Zvi’s Farm; Moshe Sharvit of Moshe’s Farm; and Neriya Ben Pazi of Rimonim Farm.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has separately announced a “visa restriction policy” under which Washington will bar the entry into the U.S. of those accused of undermining “peace, security or stability.”

Reputational damage to the State of Israel

Earlier this year, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen condemned reports of growing “settler violence” as a “blood libel” and “a lie disconnected from reality.”

According to data gathered by authorities, compared to the same period last year, the past four months saw a decrease of 50% in the number of violent incidents committed against Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

Between Oct. 7, 2022, and Feb. 24, 2023, authorities recorded 489 incidents of nationalist crime committed by Jews in Judea and Samaria. In the period from Oct. 7, 2023, when Hamas launched its war against Israel, to Feb. 24, 2024, authorities registered 256 such incidents.

Josep Borrell
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell arrives at the E.U. headquarters in Brussels for a summit on June 29, 2023. Credit: Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.

Meanwhile, Judea and Samaria saw a dramatic rise in attacks by Palestinians in 2023 compared to the previous year, with shootings reaching their highest level since the Second Intifada of 2000-05, IDF data shows.

Between Oct. 7 and Jan. 15, Rescuers Without Borders first responders recorded more than 2,600 Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis in Judea and Samaria, including 760 cases of rock-throwing, 551 fire bombings, 12 attempted or successful stabbings and nine vehicular assaults.

Far-left Israeli groups are increasingly filing false complaints against Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, a representative of the Israel Police told lawmakers at the Knesset in Jerusalem last week.

“Since the beginning of the war, there has been an upsurge in complaints from Palestinians and anarchists,” Ch. Supt. Avishay Mualem, the commander responsible for police activity in Judea and Samaria, told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

According to Mualem, reports come from the “extreme left, anarchists, who are generally in Tel Aviv and call the 100 emergency hotline to report violence by right-wing activists in the South Hebron Hills.”

The Israel Police only has one patrol in the area; an investigation showed that some 50% of the complaints filed by left-wing groups in recent months have been false, said Mualem.

The actions of these organizations are causing reputational damage to the entire State of Israel, and have led the United States and other countries to impose sanctions, he claimed.

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