France banned 28 Israelis from entering the European country, accusing them of attacking Arabs in Judea and Samaria, its foreign ministry said on Tuesday.‘
One day earlier, the U.K. announced similar measures.
The statement did not name the 28 individuals who allegedly carried out acts of violence against Palestinians, but urged Israeli authorities to “put an end to it and prosecute its perpetrators.
“These measures come at a time when violence perpetrated by settlers against the Palestinian population has been increasing in recent months. France reaffirms its strong condemnation of this unacceptable violence,” said the ministry.
“Settlement activity is illegal under international law and must stop. Its continuation is incompatible with the creation of a viable Palestinian State,” the statement added.
Paris was working with like-minded European Union member states to adopt Continent-wide sanctions against “violent settlers,” Tuesday’s statement noted, confirming reports that Brussels is seriously considering taking broad action against “extremist” Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.
The European measures under discussion could involve travel bans, asset freezes and a ban on import of products made by Israeli businesses located beyond the 1949 lines, Bloomberg reported last year.
Thirteen out of 27 E.U. foreign ministers already support the proposal, the EUObserver website said at the time, citing sources in Brussels. One source said that no one spoke out “explicitly against it at this stage.”
“The discussions are advancing in the right direction,” European officials told the EUnews website last week.
On Feb 1., U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order sanctioning “persons undermining peace, security and stability in the West Bank,” citing “high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages and property destruction.”
London followed Washington’s lead on Monday by announcing sanctions on “Israeli settlers who have violently attacked Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron decided to impose “financial and travel restrictions” on four Israelis.
During a call with Biden on Sunday, Netanyahu expressed displeasure with the president’s actions, especially in light of the decrease in the number of attacks against Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.
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.
Meanwhile, between Oct. 7 and Jan. 15, the Hatzalah Judea and Samaria rescue group recorded more than 2,600 Palestinian terror attacks in the area, including 760 cases of rock-throwing, 551 fire bombings, 12 attempted or successful stabbings and nine vehicular assaults.