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Europe weighing broad sanctions on ‘extremist’ Judea, Samaria Jews

The measures under discussion could involve travel bans, asset freezes and a ban on importing products made by Israeli businesses.

Israel Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, left, meets with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in Brussels on May 2, 2023. Source: Twitter via MFA.
Israel Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, left, meets with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in Brussels on May 2, 2023. Source: Twitter via MFA.

The European Union is seriously considering imposing broad sanctions on “extremist” Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters on Monday, following a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels.

“We will work on imposing sanctions against extremist settlers in the West Bank,” Borrell stated. “I will make a proposal to member states in this regard following the example of the United States and using our general framework to defend human rights.”

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a “visa restriction policy” under which Washington will bar the entry into the United States of those accused of undermining “peace, security or stability in the West Bank.”

The European measures under discussion could involve travel bans, asset freezes and a ban on importing products made by Israeli businesses located beyond the 1949 armistice lines, per Bloomberg.

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 human rights abusers.

Some 13 out of 27 E.U. foreign ministers currently support the proposal, according to the EUObserver website, which cited diplomatic sources in Brussels. One source said that no one spoke out “explicitly against it at this stage.”

The Irish, Italian, Dutch and Belgian foreign ministers are said to be in favor, while Germany and France reportedly also support the measure as a trade-off for European Union-wide sanctions against Hamas terrorists responsible for the murder of 1,200 people in the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7.

In recent days, the bloc added Mohammed Deif, the commander of Hamas’s “military” wing, and his deputy, Marwan Issa, to its list of terrorists under sanction. Reports said that the European Union is also considering imposing sanctions on Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar.

A travel ban would have to be enforced across the European Union’s border-free Schengen area, and it remains to be seen if the necessary unanimity can be achieved. Countries such as Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary have often blocked attempts to sanction the Jewish state.

In the period from the war’s start on Oct. 7 until Nov. 7, the Israel Police registered 97 incidents of illegal activities attributed to Jews in Judea and Samaria, down from 184 offenses in the same period in 2022, according to figures made public in November.

A leaked Israel Defense Forces document also suggests that anti-Arab violence in Judea and Samaria has been dropping.

In the nine weeks since Hamas launched its cross-border attack, Palestinian terrorists carried out 1,388 attacks in the disputed territories, including 569 cases of rock-throwing, 287 attacks with explosives, 143 Molotov cocktail assaults and 70 terrorist shootings.

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