EU sanctions extremist Israeli settlers

The European Union on Friday imposed sanctions on extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank deemed responsible for "serious human rights abuses" against Palestinians. 

Member states agreed on the sanctions by written procedure, the EU Council confirmed. Europe wants to send a signal that violent settlers' actions are an obstacle to finding a lasting peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.

European sanctions against Israeli settlers have been on the table for some time but were blocked by Hungary until last month. The country is considered the most pro-Israel of the 27 member states. Budapest agreed only after it was decided that armed Islamic groups would also be sanctioned. 

On 12 April, sanctions were imposed on three groups with links to Hamas: the Nukhba, a special military unit within Hamas; the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas; and the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Assets freeze and travel ban

Now the EU has also imposed sanctions on Israeli settlers, following the example of the US. The European sanctions are implemented through a mechanism designed to take action against those who commit serious human rights violations anywhere in the world. 

Targeted individuals and entities are subject to an assets freeze in Europe and a travel ban to the EU. European citizens and companies are also prohibited from financing individuals on the sanctions list.

So far, four individuals and two entities have been sanctioned. The entities are the far-right supremacist group Lehava and the radical youth movement Hilltop Youth. 

Two leaders of Hilltop, Meir Ettinger and Elisha Yered, are being sanctioned for their involvement in deadly attacks against Palestinians in 2015 and 2023, according to a Council press release.

Also sanctioned are Neria Ben Pazi, who is accused of attacking Palestinians on several occasions, and Yinon Levi, who is alleged to have committed several acts of violence against villages near his illegal farm.

The sanctions should ensure that the Israeli court makes a more serious effort to prosecute settler violence against Palestinian villages and olive groves in the future.

The EU has repeatedly condemned settler violence without imposing sanctions.


Demonstrators wave the Israeli flag and the banner of the far-right supremacist group Lehava in Jerusalem in 2022 © PHOTO HAZEM BADER / AFP

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