The European Union is preparing to introduce sanctions against Jewish settlers responsible for violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, as announced by the bloc's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, on Monday.
Escalating Concerns and Diplomatic Maneuvers
Borrell's statement comes at a time of escalating concern over the inability of Israeli authorities to curb the aggression of hardcore settlers.
According to United Nations data, there has been a marked increase in settler attacks since October 7. This concerning trend has been on the radar of European and US diplomats for years, with many pointing out that these acts often go unpunished by Israel.
The move by the EU mirrors a similar approach taken by the United States. Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new visa policy aimed at individuals, both Israelis and Palestinians, involved in violence in the West Bank.
This policy enables the application of targeted sanctions, such as travel bans, to those responsible for such acts. While specific details of the proposed EU sanctions are still under wraps, Reuters sources suggest they could include travel bans to the European Union.
This development signifies a concerted effort by Western powers to address the issue of settler violence more assertively.
Internal Challenges and Israeli Response
However, Borrell faces the challenge of achieving consensus within the EU, as member states like Hungary and Austria are known for their strong support of Israel.
The success of this new sanctions policy largely depends on the unanimity of all EU members. Israel's reaction to these developments has been cautious. The country is particularly sensitive to criticisms of its policies in the West Bank, especially in light of recent attacks by Hamas.
Benny Gantz, a member of Israel's war cabinet, has been vocal in discouraging the use of the term "settler violence," arguing that it unjustly labels all Israelis living in the territory. In addition to focusing on extremist settlers, Borrell mentioned the EU's intent to introduce a new sanctions package against Hamas, which the EU already recognizes as a terrorist organization.